Tuesday is Election Day for a $59 million bond issue. The voting will be handled absentee voting / vote by mail.

Voters won’t hit the polls Tuesday but still will be asked to cast their ballots to support or nix a $59 million bond proposal for Monroe Public Schools.

Despite pressure to follow the lead of three area townships that postponed local elections, the district chose to move forward with the money request to upgrade infrastructure and safety measures in what’s become an unusual election in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The election will be vote-by-mail only and all registered voters in the district received an application in the mail for an absentee ballot. Voters who have not yet applied for their absentee ballot may still contact their local clerk’s office today. Those who have received absentee ballots must return them to their local clerk’s office prior to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Election Day. Ballots can be hand-delivered to their local clerks before 8 p.m. Tuesday. Drop-boxes are available at most township and city offices. For more information, contact your local clerk’s office.

Mailing ballots is pursuant to the Bureau of Elections, and there also will be an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible machine available at each township clerk’s office, according to Sharon Lemasters, county clerk.

The bond proposal allows the people of Monroe to invest in our schools, in our students, and ultimately, in our community,” Supt. Julie Everly told The Monroe News, adding that the request to voters comes after more than 2½ years of facility studies, committee meetings, community surveys and board work session discussions.

If approved, the millage is expected to generate about $59 million to be used toward updating the district’s more than 40-year-old infrastructure. The average age of the district’s buildings is 64.

It’s estimated the district would levy about 1.5 mills annually to pay off the bonds over 30 years.

By levying 1.5 mills – $1.50 per $ 1,000 of taxable value – a resident with a medium home market value for Monroe County would be taxed about $ 6.25 to $ 12.50 per month, according to district calculations. That’s an annual cost of about $75 to $150, depending on the home.

Citing plans for facilities improvements and enhanced safety measures, Everly said security upgrades received 92% approval by the public in community-wide survey in July.

“Community input was a very important part of the process,” she said. “Projects were only included in the bond if they ranked as high priorities on both facility assessments and community surveys.”

“At its essence, the bond proposal is about keeping our schools safe, warm, and functional. There are no new buildings. This is about taking care of the schools we have,” she added.

Some of the critical updates include creating secure vestibule entries to ensure visitors pass through offices before they gain access to the rest of the school, Everly said. There also are plans for new fire alarms with public address systems, and security tie-ins would be installed at every school building.

The bond also would fund facility upgrades such as boiler replacements, restrooms and playgrounds and heating, ventilation and air conditioning ( HVAC) equipment. In rooms where HVAC projects require ceiling replacements, energy-efficient LED lighting also will be installed, she said.

Bond funds cannot be used for school employees’ salaries, retirement or other staff compensation. They are specifically designated for capital projects.

“ The projects that are planned increase the longevity and function of the district’s schools, enhance safety for our students and staff, provide more comfortable school and classroom environments and redirect current utility spending, through cost reductions, to student learning experiences,” Everly said. “Although these are capital building projects, all of them benefit the students we serve.”

If the projects are completed, the district anticipates cost savings of more than $300,000 annually from energy savings and reduced operational costs, Everly said. Over a period of 30 years, consultants project the savings to reach $10.7 million.

District leaders say the projects will generate jobs for area construction and trades workers and will be part of the community’s economic recovery, following necessary business closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Residents in parts of the City of Monroe and four townships are eligible to participate in Tuesday’s vote. The following are those local municipalities and addresses for the area clerk’s offices:

• City of Monroe, 120 E. First St.

• Monroe Township, 4925 E. Dunbar Road

• Exeter Township, 6158 Scofield Road, Maybee

• Frenchtown Township, 2744 Vivian Road

• LaSalle Township, 4109 LaPlaisance Road, LaSalle

• Raisinville Township, 96 Ida-Maybee Rd.

For more information, visit monroe.k12.mi.us/District/ Portal/bond-info.

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