Nancy continued: "The general public is repeatedly urged to get out and vote, and constantly reminded that the majority of the operating expenses will be covered by non-homestead homeowners and local businesses. I have never seen a detailed breakdown of the amount of taxes covered by this group as opposed to the amount covered by the homeowners who actually have children in the system.
"While I support our schools, despite having absolutely no vote, I strongly feel that you should be more transparent about the actual numbers. Wording such as 'we are extremely fortunate to be able to generate a large amount of revenue with no impact on taxpayers' is useless."
Nancy requested that the Tribune at least put this taxing process in perspective so when resident voters go to the polling booth, they will be a more aware of "how they are spending other people's money on the continued wish lists of the district."
Keith Konarska, superintendent of Grand Haven Area Public Schools, responded to Nancy with an explanation of the non-principal school tax. He shares that letter with us for the Mailbag answer:
"Hi, Nancy. Thank you for your support of our district and for your suggestions. I am happy to address your questions and offer the following information:
"In total, the 18 mills operational levy brings in approximately $17.3 million from our non-principal residence tax base (non-principal residence tax base, also referred to as non-homestead, includes residential second homes and commercial property). This equates to a local per-pupil amount of $2,795. State aid picks up the remaining amount of our operational funding to bring us up to our foundation grant of $7,290.
* 37% of the tax base used to generate the $17.3 million of non-principal residence comes from Consumers Power.
* Concerning transparency, all taxable values by categories are available on county websites. Additionally, the Michigan Department of Education posts monthly state aid payment summaries online, which include detail regarding local operational taxes collected and the 'state share' they are paying to the district.
* The debt levy collected from non-principal residence (non-homestead) is significantly lower in GHAPS vs. most school districts with smaller tax bases (i.e., no power plant).
"Please know that it has always been our desire to be as transparent as possible. That is why we explain who is impacted by the non-principal residence renewal. As noted above, others in our community continue to share a significant portion of that burden as well.
If you have further questions, please don't hesitate to call. I would be happy to meet with you as well. Your support of the schools in our community is tremendously valued and is never taken for granted."
Grand Haven Area Public Schools
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