By Jef Rietsma
Vicksburg Schools officials are urging the district’s voters to educate themselves in advance of a countywide millage-renewal on a May 2 ballot.
Renewal of the so-called “enhancement millage” is being sought by KRESA, the Kalamazoo Regional Education Services Agency.
At stake for the Vicksburg district is about $1 million annually. The measure was originally approved in 2005 and has been renewed every three years since. If approved, the request would be in place for a six-year period and would be expected to remain on a six-year cycle for renewal.
During the district’s Jan. 16 meeting, board President Skip Knowles explained the thought behind changing from what has previously been a three-year request to every six years.
“The reason the recommendation is to go to six years is so we get an offset in those millages and it gives local districts more time if they have to have elections, or the county needs to have an election, or something else,” Knowles said. “The other thing on the enhancement millage … it’s a KRESA millage only because when Proposal A passed, they said the only way you could pass an enhancement millage is for an intermediate system district to do it.”
Knowles said he has struggled to come to terms with the word “enhancement,” explaining that in his mind, it “sounds like we’re putting frosting on the cake.”
“It fills in big voids for all the local school systems,” he said. “KRESA doesn’t take any of that money, it distributes it to the locals, so that’s where it goes and that’s very important for everyone to understand.”
Knowles stressed that the 1.5-mill renewal request is not a tax increase. Rather, passage would maintain the current millage rate. Funds through the enhanced millage are to be used at the discretion of each school district.
VCS used its first enhanced millage funds to help offset the cost of constructing its football stadium nearly 20 years ago.
Knowles said the district receives more revenue from the enhancement millage than what its taxpayers put in.
“Because they use the county millage rate, for every dollar a Vicksburg taxpayer pays to that millage we get a dollar and a quarter, or real close to that, back,” Knowles said. “So, it’s a very good thing for Vicksburg.”
Superintendent Keevin O’Neill said he plans to support the request.
In other action, Knowles was voted by the board to continue serving as president of the seven-member panel for 2023. Knowles has been a board member since 1984.
David Schriemer, a board member since 2005, was chosen to serve as vice-president. Carol Lohman remains on the board but wished to relinquish the role of vice president.
Amy Manchester will maintain her role as board secretary, a position she has held since 2018. Also, the board voted for Steve Goss to continue his role as district treasurer. Goss has been a district administrator since 2003 and also serves as the district’s assistant superintendent.
By Jef Rietsma