CHESANING — On March 10, Chesaning Union Schools is asking voters to consider a 0.75-mill sinking fund, which would help the district pay for necessary upgrades to existing infrastructure.

The five-year proposal would generate approximately $244,000 per year for capital improvements and, because a current bond levy is dropping over time, the new millage would not change the district’s current rate of 5.62 mills, according to Superintendent Mike McGough.

The measure was narrowly defeated in a special election on Aug. 6, 2019, 590-500, though McGough indicated the conditions that led to the district seeking the proposal still exist.

“The message we’re really trying to get out is that the addition of the sinking fund will not increase the total capital millage rate,” McGough said. “I think that’s where we kind of fell short last time.

“I did hear from people (after the August 2019 election) that said, ‘I saw the proposal and I voted no, but I didn’t know about the offset (in the bond millage),’” McGough continued. “Our job is to inform people.”

Voters previously approved a 29-year, $28-million bond proposal for the district in 2014, which resulted in a levy of 5.62 mills. As a result of that bond, the district was able to add an auxiliary gym and build a new athletic complex, as well as provide upgrades to each building, including the renovation of a number of high school classrooms that had not been addressed since the building opened decades ago.

Improvements under the proposed sinking fund would include upgrades to the district’s pool, parking lots, plumbing and mechanical systems, as well as potential lighting, sound and electrical upgrades to the district’s auditorium.

“It’s about taking care of what we have,” McGough said. “Keeping what you have in good shape really does save you money down the road. It lasts longer…The replacement of failed systems is quite expensive.”

If the proposed sinking fund passes, it would not raise district property owners’ millage rate. In fact, the district projects the overall millage rate would decrease to approximately 5.39 mills by the end of the proposed sinking fund in 2024 due to rising property values, McGough said.

As for right now, the focus throughout the district, according to McGough, is on making sure voters are informed prior to election day.

“We’re planning to mail out a flyer to everybody in the district, just to get the information out there more efficiently and effectively,” McGough said, “and in our next newsletter we’re going to provide a lot of information about the sinking fund, how there will be an offset in the bond millage that will keep it at the same rate and then actually lower it over the five years.”

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