West Ottawa asks voters to renew operating millage, OK sinking fund


HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Voters will consider two millage proposals for West Ottawa Public Schools in the Aug. 4 primary. 

Both initiatives were originally slated for the May ballot, but the district decided to delay them because of concerns surrounding COVID-19 and the shutdown.

“We were really just trying to be sensitive to our community,” West Ottawa Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Jeff Malloch told News 8 Friday. “We really wanted to be cognizant of some of those volunteers and workers who are in the high-risk category.”

The first proposal is an operating millage renewal, which voters see annually. There’s no tax impact on primary residences for this proposal.

It asks voters to renew the maximum tax rate of 18 mills on non-homestead properties, like businesses and vacation homes, to generate more than $13.4 million for general operating costs next year.

That amount equates to about 17% of the district’s total budget, making its passing Tuesday more urgent after delaying the ballot.

“That’s (funding) we typically can see in revenue in September and October, where now we can’t collect that until the winter levy, so it kind of delays that cash flow for us until January 2021,” Malloch explained. “If the district doesn’t pass the operating millage renewal then really those funds are just funds that are lost.”

The second proposal seeks to replace the district’s existing sinking fund through a .3 mil. The district said taxpayers would see an increase of about $30 total next year if they have a $200,000 home with a $100,000 taxable value.

The new fund would generate about $687,000 for costs related to district infrastructure. 

Malloch said that previously, voters have been very supportive of the district, which remains imperative as the district faces back-to-school planning that has brought added stress and work for educators across the country.

“Although the district is planning to offer two plans (in-person and virtual) in the fall, we recognize that the pandemic situation is fluid and will adapt to whatever means necessary to keep our students safe while providing a top-notch education,” he said. 

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