This message pertains to the May 4, 2021 bond issue election where we will be asking voters to consider a zero mill increase bond issue that will generate approximately $8 million for important updates to school facilities.
First, we have been asked how a district can ask for a zero mill increase that winds up generating $8 million. You may recall that in 2016 Fruitport voters approved a 3.9 mill increase which generated $52 million. Since that time, our property tax growth has exceeded what is required to pay bond debt toward the approved 3.9 mills. This is money the district can only access through a bond issue request. In this case, the growth would generate the $8 million as requested on the ballot without an additional increase to the millage rate.
As I have shared before, the property tax base is projected to grow substantially in the future such that around 2026, we can ask voters to approve another zero mill increase bond issue to generate enough money to replace Edgewood Elementary. It is anticipated that this growth will continue over the years such that every ten years or so, the district can ask for a zero mill increase to replace the next building.
We have been asked that if the May 4 bond issue fails, how much would a typical resident save on their taxes. Because the bulk of millage we collect for bond debt comes from commercial properties, taxes for the average homeowner in Fruitport (a home with a market value of approximately $150,000) would save $0.79 cents on their tax bill beginning the summer of 2022.
In order to replace Edgewood with a zero mill increase bond issue election in 2026, we need to create the space for the new Edgewood footprint. The location for the new Edgewood is the current location of athletic practice facilities that lie behind Edgewood and the softball field. Those practice facilities need a place to go. Therefore, the May 4 bond, if approved, would afford the funds to put artificial turf in the stadium. Once we have artificial turf, practices could take place in the stadium as much as needed. Currently the stadium has a natural turf that would be destroyed in short order with that kind of use.
Another update that could be afforded by the May 4 bond would be installation of air conditioning and improvements to the HVAC systems in all of our buildings. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is the fact that air quality in our buildings needs to be improved to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.
Yet another update the May 4 bond could address is the conversion of the antiquated pool space at the middle school into a multi-purpose gymnasium that would be available for community use. It is important to understand that the district would need to invest millions of dollars into that pool facility to bring it up to current standards and codes, and then we still have a 50 year old pool that is not able to be used for high school competition because it is the wrong size. The district feels it is a better use of community dollars to turn that space into something that would benefit the many youth sports clubs that struggle to find practice space, along with other uses.
Finally, the May 4 bond could be used to benefit programs such as our growing Marching Band program. Bond proceeds can be used to purchase musical instruments that are too expensive for many of our families to afford. Not only would our Marching Band have the instrumentation to help them continue to grow through access to quality instruments, but with artificial turf in the stadium, our Marching Band could host Marching Band competitions that could bring bands and their families from across the state to see our beautiful school district.
The future of our district facilities is very bright through the May 4 bond issue and all future bond issues moving forward. Please mark your calendar and remember to vote on May 4.