FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

August 8, 2017 Special Education Headlee Restoration

    1. Why is the Ionia County Intermediate School District (ICISD) Board of Education calling for a Headlee Restoration in the area of Special Education?

    This is not a new tax, but simply the Board of Education asking the voters to fully restore the special education funding to the level the voters originally approved it to be in 2003.  The Special Education millage for ICISD has been reduced by .4122 mills due to Headlee roll backs.  ICISD would be able to use the approximately $715,000 back into funding state and federal mandated special education services that impact both ICISD programs and those of our local districts. 

    1. Why is this called a Headlee Restoration- what does that mean?

    The 1978 Headlee Amendment to the Constitution of the State of Michigan of 1963 requires a local unit of government to reduce its millage when annual growth on existing property is greater than 5% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.  As a consequence, the local unit’s millage rate is “rolled back” so that the resulting growth in property tax revenue, unit-wide, is no more than the rate of inflation.  A Headlee override, or what is commonly known as a restoration, is a vote by the electors to return the millage to the amount originally authorized via charter, state statute, or a vote of the people and is necessary to counteract the effects of the Headlee roll back.

    In simple terms, if property tax rates increase 5%, and the rate of inflation is 2.5%, the millage is reduced (rolled back) to limit the amount of revenue generated to be 2.5%.  So, a vote of the public is required to restore the millage amount to the pre-approved value.

    1. Does the Headlee Amendment impact local districts?

    Yes it does.  Local districts are regularly seeking voter support to a Headlee override to allow for a full capture of Non-Homestead Funds.  Voters within Ionia County ISD have been very supportive of these, and we hope they will continue to support the ISD in a similar manner.

    1. How much needs to be restored?

    In order to fully restore the special education funding to the level approved originally by Ionia County voters, .4122 mills are needed.  In 2003, voters approved 4.75 mills to support special education programs in the schools.  Due to the Headlee reduction, ICISD is currently levying less than 4.34 mills.  This would restore approximately $715,000 to our special education budgets.

    1. If the restoration is restored, how much would the .4122 mills restoration cost the average homeowner in Ionia County?

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median value of a home in Ionia County is $110,000.  The restoration would cost the median homeowner $22.67 annually, or $1.89 per month.

    1. How are programs and services funded presently?

    Funding for special education programs are generated from four major areas:  state funding, federal funding, local district general education dollars, and our Special Education Millage. 

    1. Why are additional dollars needed for special education?

    As you have read, due to inadequate funding from state and federal funding, residents from Ionia County have passed a countywide millage to help offset the costs for mandated services.  This millage does not cover all of the costs.  Local school districts must transfer resources from their general education fund to cover excess costs.  Restoring the millage to the full dollar amount will allow for less financial stress on our local districts while continuing to ensure quality educational programming for all students.

    1. When was the last millage restoration?

    ICISD has not asked for any restoration or increase to special education funding since 2003.

    1. Which school districts will benefit?

    Every school district in Ionia County has students with special needs  – this impacts EVERY district.

    1. What will be the amount of money generated by this restoration?

    If the Special Education Restoration is passed, approximately $715,000 would be generated assuming 100% collections from all taxpayers.

    1. What will happen if the override is not approved?

    Headlee roll backs are not an isolated event, but rather happen on a very regular basis when the economy is trending up.  Should the Special Education Restoration not be approved, we expect further roll backs which would continue to erode necessary funding.  Ultimately, this increases financial stress on local school districts to pull from general funds to provide for mandated special education services.  A future restoration would also be considered.

    1. When is the election?

    The election is August 8, 2017.

    1. Is there any other voter information I should know?

    Absentee ballots will be available on or before June 24, 2017.  The application for an Absent Voter Ballot is HERE.  The last day to register to vote is July 10, 2017.  The polls will open at 7:00 a.m. and close at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, August 8, 2017.

    1. What will the ballot language say?

    “This proposal requests the restoration of millage to allow the continued levy by the intermediate school district of the maximum mills for special education previously approved by the electors.

    Shall the current limitation on the annual property tax rate for the education of students with a disability in Ionia County Intermediate School District, Michigan, be increased by .4122 mill ($0.4122) on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of 10 years, 2017-2026, inclusive (this increase will allow the intermediate school district to levy the maximum rate of 4.75 mills previously approved by the electors that has been reduced as required by the Michigan Constitution of 1963); the estimate of the revenue the intermediate school district will collect if the millage is approved and levied in 2017 is approximately $715,000 from local property taxes authorized herein?”