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Brighton School Board Approves Bond Issue for May Ballot

Board members discussed and approved ballot language during their Monday night meeting.

The Brighton Board of Education voted 6-1 to approve a resolution to put an $88 million bond issue on the May election ballot.

Board members also approved the ballot language, as recommended by legal counsel.

Board of Education Trustee John Conely cast the lone dissenting vote, although Trustee Miles Vieau stated that he did not approve of the ballot language because it was too vague.

"It can be anything you want it to be," Vieau said. "It's the basic ballot language that you can do whatever you want with. You tell the public one thing, and this ballot language says something completely different. Remodeling, refurbishing — we've said these things in other bonds but never got them. I don't have a problem with this bond, as I've stated before, but I'd like it to be spelled out."

Brighton Superintendent Greg Gray said he believed the ballot language had to be written in that manner because, given the large scope of the project, spelling out each item as Vieau requested would fill 49 pages. Gray said the vagueness leaves room for the Board of Education to manage the project should any unforeseen changes arise.

He also said the responsibility fell to himself and to board members to fulfill obligations and do what they said they were going to do with the bond money.

Board President Cheryl Leach said the board has no intention of doing anything other than what it has outlined. She also said that any extra funds or changes in orders have to be brought back to the board for approval.

Conely said he supports the improvements needed in the schools, but he supports paying for them with a sinking fund and smaller technology bond — and that was why he voted against the resolution.

"That way, the taxpayers know exactly what they will pay and for how long," he said.

Conely said he was also against a May election.

"I would like to see the voters come out — they're going to be the ones who are taxed," he said. "And you would get that in November. We don't know what the turnout's going to be. The only thing on the ballot will be the bond. I believe the November ballot would be a better indicator. Not everyone can come out for a special millage election."

The bond issue would increase the current millage by 1.49 mills, not the 1.59 mills originally estimated.

According to Gray, that means homeowners would see an increase in property taxes of $1.49 for every thousand dollars of their home's state equalized value (SEV).

"So if you have a $200,000 house and a $100,000 SEV, your increase would be $149 for the year in terms of tax increase," he said.

The bond will be distributed in two tiers, with the second tier being issued three years after the first.

Gray said the ballot language is based on an expected 1.69 percent decrease in property values — that's the current five-year average in property value, as required. He said that if property values increase, then the board has options to refund taxes or to pay off bond faster.

"We're doing this for the children of this district — and not just the children who attend school in this district, but the children who use the facilities in this district, like the fields or the Performing Arts Center," Leach said. "The children of this district have hand-me-down technology, and they still perform. They have hand-me-down buses, and still, our children perform. Our children have never, ever let us down in this district. So my question is, how much longer do our children have to wait before we improve our facilities?"

George Mc Connell March 16, 2012 at 06:58 PM
This voter will vote NO on the Brighton School Bond. The old refrain "It's for the children" is getting a little old. Everything I see listed on the Schools "need to do" list are not "needs"....they are "wants". In our current economic climate, we do not need to be fulliling "wants" but just taking care of basic needs. Brighton was at one time at the top of the list in the 5 surrounding school districts...they are not at the bottom due to poor fiscal management. Why sould the taxpayers continue to subsidise financial mis- management???? VOTE NO.
Jack - Support Local March 30, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Lose the athletic "needs" and it would at least be considerable. I agree with George though, why should fiscal mismanagement be funded by us taxpayers? I see nothing has changed in the last 4 years, so sad.
Jack - Support Local March 30, 2012 at 04:29 PM
BTW, I'm VERY pro-public education and have done plenty of "fighting for the cause" over the years. My kids attend public schools.
T W. April 18, 2012 at 08:06 PM
I went through Brighton Area Schools in the 80's and early 90's, and I am a small business owner in the area. I would like to see the school system stay competitive as it does seem to prop up real estate values in the area, however $88 million? Are you tearing down every structure and rebuilding from scratch? More and more, I see high schools resembling high-tech business parks rather than educational institutions. $88 million is a hard number to stomach in any economic climate, let alone the current one. I will be voting a big "no" to this bond issue.

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