The School Election Resource Center contains several sample templates for non-homestead renewals and sinking funds that school districts can adapt and use.
Please note that this resource center is provided as a general service to MASA members. The information provided should not be interpreted or used as a substitute for a specific legal opinion from retained legal counsel. Before making any legal decisions, school boards and administrators should directly consult with their retained legal counsel or other qualified counsel.
Non-homestead Millage Renewal
Non-homestead millage renewals authorize an 18-mill levy for school operations on all “non-homestead” properties — businesses, second homes, anything that’s not a principal residence. These millages are a vital part of a school funding system.
The ballot questions originated from Proposal A, the landmark 1994 reform that rolled back property taxes on homes. As part of the deal, a heavier tax burden — 18 mills — was levied on second homes and commercial and industrial properties. The crucial point for voters: Their own homes, as principal residences, aren’t affected by the non-homestead taxes. This is merely a pro forma continuation of taxes already in place for other properties. If the non-homestead taxes were to fail in any district, however, the effect would be devastating to already strained school budgets.
Click on each section below to see examples of materials that other districts have used in their own millage efforts.
Educational Activities, Social Media, Press
A sinking fund is a savings account into which a local school district can deposit voter approved local millage revenue in order to pay cash for projects or repairs as they arise rather than having to borrow through short-term notes or long-term bonds. Sinking funds provide districts with a cost-effective alternative to borrowing or bonding for some expenditures because they require none of the associated interest costs nor legal fees. Using a sinking fund, the school district accesses the money on-hand to pay for projects as they are completed. Since the school district has not borrowed money for the projects, no debt is incurred and it does not pay interest on the money used.
State law allows a district to levy a sinking fund millage of up to five mills for 20 years, although most are for fewer mills over a shorter timeframe. Funds generated through a sinking fund can only be used for construction, renovations and repairs of buildings – not for operating expenses, salaries, benefits or routine maintenance. In addition, this money cannot be used for textbooks, technology equipment or software, or bus replacement. Presently there are 170 districts out of 545 local districts levying sinking fund millages, and they generate an estimated $131.0 million in revenue statewide.
Click on each section below to see examples of materials that other districts have used in their own sinking fund millage efforts.