MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Voters in Muskegon County narrowly approved a 10-year, multimillion-dollar millage for schools, according to the intermediate school district and unofficial results on the Muskegon County Clerk’s website.
The final vote was 6,285 in favor and 6,099 against, according to the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District.
The millage will raise property taxes by one mill to provide technology and security improvements in every school district in the county. The MAISD said that will mean an average homeowner will pay an additional $41 per year for the next 10 years.
Going into the Tuesday vote, a MAISD representative said she didn’t know how it would go. And it was close, in the end decided by fewer than 200 votes.
The measure passed within the City of Muskegon, where 784 people voted yes and 575 voted no.
MAISD Superintendent Dave Sipka told 24 Hour News 8 over the phone Tuesday night that it was a “nailbiter” and went on to say that “we knew it was going to be close in virtually every precinct, and we were hopeful that the city precincts would really carry us through.”
The measure passed in North Muskegon by about a ratio of 2-1, and failed in Muskegon Heights by about the same. There, 122 voted yes and 67 voted no.
Districts will collect about $161 more per student under the millage. That money will go toward security and technology, and will be used to do things like remodel school entryways and purchase handheld digital devices like iPads and Chromebooks.
Sipka told 24 Hour News 8 he counts the passage of the millage as a victory for the 27,000 students in Muskegon County.
“I’m just so grateful for what this will mean really for the kids,” said Sipka. “I can buy a lot of candy bars and wrapping paper and popcorn as fundraisers… [but] to me this is a donation to kids over the next 10 years.”
He said superintendents at every district were hopeful it would pass so their students could remain competitive.
“People with technological skills have more advantages in the workplace than those who do not,” Oakridge Superintendent Tom Livezey said. “That’s what we’re preparing these kids for.”
Livezey also pointed to security improvements that districts will now be able to make with the additional funds.
“This is going to be a tremendous benefit to Oakridge students. This is going to provide a much more safer (sic) environment for our students to learn,” Livezey said.
MAISD superintendent Sipka said he hopes those who voted against the millage take another look at what the money will pay for. He said that about 80% of people in Muskegon County don’t have kids in school.
“From their perspective, they may not see that this is needed, or may not understand how important this is,” said Sipka. “We were able to convince enough people in the county that this is truly an important vote for kids.”