Onaway school operating millage passes easily

ONAWAY – Voters approved a renewal of an 18-mill, non-homestead operating millage for Onaway Area Community Schools Tuesday by a wide margin.

In the eight precincts in Onaway’s school district, only Bearinger and Case townships voted the millage down. Overall, the 10-year renewal passed 289-125, including Cheboygan County’s Forest and Waverly townships.

The millage provides about $2.5 million annually for the district, just under half of the district’s budget, Superintendent Rod Fullerton said. Without it, the district’s existence would be threatened.

The renewal “basically means that we will be able to continue to collect what we’re supposed to collect in order to maintain our foundation allowance,” he said.

Fullerton said the state assumes the district will get $6,996 per pupil, per school year. The state multiplies this by a blended pupil count, and subtracts what equates to 18 mills times the district’s non-homestead property values.

“The assumption is there that we will collect that millage, but it’s up to the voters to approve it, which kind of puts the district in the middle,” he said. “Theoretically, there could be a school district that does not have that operating millage approved.”

If the operating millage was not approved, the state would not make up the difference, Fullerton said. This would essentially mean the district would have to close its doors.

After some initial confusion of when to place the renewal on the ballot, the district board opted to do so for Tuesday’s election. They had hoped to piggy-back on another in order to share the costs; however, Onaway’s millage renewal was the only issue at question in Tuesday’s election in all of Presque Isle County, County Clerk Ann Marie Main said. Public ballots for Forest and Waverly townships show that both had fire protection millages.

Ultimately, Fullerton was happy to hear the district’s operating millage was renewed, he said.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.