On February 27th, Alpena residents will vote on the Non-Homestead Operating Millage supporting Alpena Public Schools (APS) as it comes up for renewal. This millage, a key source of funding for the district, has been in place since 1994.
We had the opportunity to speak with APS Superintendent, David Rabbideau, to gain insights into the millage renewal, “It’s 18 mills on commercial properties, non homestead properties, so commercial, rental, vacation second homes and some non exempt agricultural properties, so it does not apply to our primary residence.” Superintendent Rabbideau clarifies that this renewal aims to restore the millage to its full state, which had been impacted by rollbacks three years ago. “It’s been rolled back to 17.7769 mills,” said Rabbideau. “In addition to renewing the entire operating millage, we’re asking to restore it back to that 18 mills. So it goes from that 17.7769 up to the full 18 mills.”
This millage is crucial as it accounts for approximately 17% of the district’s funding, supporting essential operations of the schools. Rabbideau states these funds are used for many necessities to keep the district running, “We use it to pay staffing costs, curriculum, materials, resources, to operate our buildings, pay the utilities, perform the maintenance, if anything breaks we use operating millage money to take care of that, if we want to add onto buildings and it’s not part of bond work or things like that.”
The effects of the millage not passing can have large consequences. Rabbideau mentions a significant setback in 1981 when a community vote against the millage, leading to a complete halt to the school system. “There’s a history here of a millage not passing, going back to 1981,” said Rabbideau. “The community had not passed, I think, three millage attempts at that point, and the district literally ran out of money, had to shut down, and stayed closed for a number of weeks until they could go back out to the public and vote a millage in.”
If the millage isn’t passed on the February 27th vote, this may cause discontinuation of school programs and other cuts. Other bonds cannot be used to combat the loss of funding as all of those have set parameters of what they can be used for. Rabbideau said, “We are publicly funded; we can’t sell more products or make more money. This is the structure in the state of Michigan that is set up so we can run our schools.”
For more information on the millage renewal and its implications, visit the Alpena Public Schools website, linked here.