O-G voters to decide millage May 8

By Mary Drier
Staff Writer
OWENDALE — During an informational meeting, Owendale – Gagetown School District officials outlined needed facility upgrades and what a proposed bond issue would fund if approved.
During the Tuesday, May 8 election, voters will be asked to approve 3.30 mills for 25 years for remodeling and upgrades. If approved, it would generate about $2.98 million for a wide variety of improvements: infrastructure, fire alarms, telephones, security, outdated and inefficient boilers, roof, technology, equipment, lighting, parking lot paving, lockers, ceilings, some minor remodeling, and more.
The newest section of the school was built in 1978 and the oldest in 1968.
Upgrades are needed throughout the building for safety, energy efficiency, and to provide the best education possible for our students, said Superintendent James Wencel.
“Our children deserve what others have in the schools today,” said Wencel in reference to technology, computers, whiteboards in place of outdated blackboards and more.
There are safety issues with the boilers, roof, electrical, public address system, flooring, and also American with Disabilities regulations that need addressing.
“A strobe-signal, emergency system for hearing impaired would be included,” said Wencel, noting it would be good for the band room also. “Our PA (public address) system doesn’t reach every part of the building. That’s critical in an emergency. Also included is a video security system, which I feel is the best. We had a flat-screen TV turn up missing.
“Like any school there are some issues of bullying and with video it should help prevent that.”
A cost breakdown of some of the proposed projects the bond would help fund include: about $1.37 million would go for renovation projects like remodeling the gym floor, removal of bleachers in cafeteria, a new roof, new ceiling, and some flooring. About $343,000 for telephones, video security, and classroom furniture. About $150,000 for technology upgrades, about $64,000 for parking lot paving, improvements to the athletic fields, and service drive. About $300,000 for new boilers and electrical upgrades.
R.C. Hendrick & Son Construction Company has been working with district officials on the proposal.
Currently, the district has no debt obligation.
If approved, the millage would cost the property owner of an $80,000 home with a taxable value of $40,000 about $132 a year.
However, there are some variables that can come into play that would lower that cost for some… by as much as half, Wencel pointed out.
On the district’s Web site owengage.org, there is a “Bond Proposal Tax Calculator.”
According to Walt Schlichting, the equalization director for both Tuscola and Huron counties, the calculator takes in a variety of factors such as income status, possible low-income and disability exemptions, and the Homestead Property Tax Credit.
“Their tax calculator is the most involved I’ve seen. I can understand why they’ve included it,” said Schlichting. “It gives an individualized calculation.”
The polls will be open 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Mary Drier is a staff writer for the Tuscola County Advertiser. She can be reached at drier@tcadvertiser.com.

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