How It begins

Michigan school districts have more than a few tricks up their sleeves.

Or maybe how it might end?

What we see in proposed legislation by Michigan State Senator Darwin Booher is a natural extension of what happens to a legislator’s mind in Lansing.  Senate bill 481 attempts to modify the “Recreational authorities act;” 2000 PA 321, so that school districts can then create their own ‘authority,’ build facilities, and hit the taxpayers for up to a mil with yet another creative tool of extortion.

Why would school’s need such a thing you ask? Why would a school district want, or need to create a new agency that can generate new  revenue for pools, entertainment complexes, sports venues, etc?

Hilarious question, right? However, as has been pointed out before, the formula (post proposal A) has changed.  Very much.

“Underneath the perceived troubles in funding public education is an emerging reality. Because of the nature of taxpayer funding, and the struggle for local school districts to grab their ‘fair share’ of Michigan’s education budget pie, expenses that were once built into operating budgets are now separated from them, and allowed to be levied through millage requests. These building fund requests allow for purchase of new infrastructure, equipment, and maintenance.

Unfortunately, once the funding had begun in this direction, it quickly became a running operative mechanism that allowed all manner of abuse to begin. Routine maintenance became the recipient of improvement monies, and improvement requests increased to fund facilities that went beyond necessary functionality. The latest request including a component that would have built a $26.5 million performing arts facility. (including all aspects of construction) The proposal for a declining student population at a cost of was easily declined by voters.”

All of what used to be covered under simple operations cost, has been partitioned into new funding paradigms.

Given the reticence of voters to blindly offer up their sacrifice to school district mismanagement through bonds and specific education project approvals, the next step for the bureaucratic mind is to seek shelter inside of a new authority.  From where else could government hide, yet still reap a windfall of taxpayer largess? Why lookie here:

Sec. 12. If a majority of electors in each of the participating municipalities of the authority voting on the question of a tax as provided in section 11 approve the tax, the authority shall consider offering preferences or benefits for the residents of the participating municipalities that include, but are not limited to, any of the following:

(a) Discounted admission fees.

(b) Discounted membership fees.

(c) Discounts for school children.

(d) Access to educational programs.

So offer a perk to Joe Citizen;“you get a discount for supporting our most recent boondoggle!”

And money is fungible.  A line added to soothe those who pretend to desire fiscal responsibility in the legislature:

“(4) The proceeds of a tax levied under this section shall only be used for those purposes described in subsection (1) and shall not be used for any general fund purposes by any participating municipality.”

Certainly.  Whatever you say.

And why might Darwin Booher be the guy?  Are schools in HIS district looking to overcome public sentiment and limits set by a tax weary public? One might think so, but in all likelihood, one might also find a more realistic answer in the largest school district north of Grand Rapids.

Booher is in the district adjacent to the 37th which TCAPS resides.  Perhaps even Wayne Schmidt realized he couldn’t sponsor such a potential for self screwing of, and by the constituents.

However, he would likely vote for it.


H/T Brian Kroll

You Betcha! (15)Nuh Uh.(1)

  4 comments for “How It begins

  1. Corinthian Scales
    September 22, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    A DIA Tax in every pot? Every man is fleeced?

    JHFC! Huey Long must be so proud.

    There just ain't one damn bit of difference between the Party's anymore.

    You Betcha! (5)Nuh Uh.(0)
  2. Sue Schartz
    September 22, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    In the late 80's school districts all over the state were putting on millages to build pools, gyms arenas, etc.. It was usually a companion issue--70 million for school roofs, and 6 million for a pool at the local high school. This was so the voters would have an issue to vote no on--but if it passed, it became a slush fund--with the district supporting the pool and the money made from the use of the pool, went into the slush fund. These pool funds were not required to be audited--thus became a great place to hide monies and so it went, unless there was an astute taxpayer or two following the money. Sports facilities such as pools, are a drain on any community, just ask Grand Traverse County whose in a quandry to repair and upkeep at taxpayer expense it's community pool. But the real threat is anything with the word "authority" in the title means an automatic serious tax hike that just doesn't go away ever!!!!!

    You Betcha! (3)Nuh Uh.(0)
  3. KG One
    September 22, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    This is just a (not-so new) item in a long list of attempts from out non-representing representatives to short-circuit what little is remaining of our Headlee Protections and jam through a laundry list of "necessary" projects and programs so that they do not need to do anything even remotely strenuous like make a decision.

    That item for those who haven't picked up on it yet is: "Authorities".

    And since these authorities were created after Headlee was enacted, it is not constrained by its limitations.

    That is how we got the DIA Tax that CS mentioned above.

    That is how we got this interesting creation implemented.

    The Rick "Let's make them an offer that they cannot refuse" Snyder's Great Lakes Water Authority.

    And that is how we will be getting the same offer again when the RTA comes around for a vote next year.

    Even though the intent is clear as day to someone like little Stevie Wonder, don't expect our useless AG (and soon-to-be gubernatorial candidate) Bill Schuette to get off of this you-know-what and do anything about it.

    My best advice for everyone at this time: Hold onto your wallets, because the fun is just starting!

    You Betcha! (2)Nuh Uh.(0)

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