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Bedford voters face request of 18 mills

TEMPERANCE - Voters in the Bedford Public Schools District will be asked to renew a non-homestead tax levy in the May 6 election.

The 18-mill nonhomestead levy is for property taxes collected on vacation homes, rental property, and businesses. A mill is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

Ted Magrum, assistant superintendent of finance and operations, said the 18 mills is the maximum allowed under law, and state law requires the non-homestead levy must be put on the ballot every five years.

If renewed, it would begin in 2009.

Bedford Schools collects about $3.6 million a year on the property tax, and approving it is vital to the operations of the district, school officials said.

The district, like school systems throughout the state, is facing declining revenue from the state.

Because of the Headlee Amendment that says governments and school districts cannot increase taxes faster than the rate of inflation, Bedford has been collecting only about 17.56 mills of the 18-mill nonhomestead levy.

A capital-improvement levy that would have funded building repairs was narrowly defeated last May. The proposed five-year, 0.5-mill levy would have generated about $2.5 million.

Mr. Magrum said the repairs - roof replacements at the high school, junior high, and Temper-ance Road elementary, removal of asbestos flooring, exterior wall repairs, and replacing two boilers - still need to be done.

School board members had contemplated putting a sinking fund on an upcoming ballot to finance the repairs. The levy would generate $500,000 a year for five years.

Mr. Magrum said the district is looking at spending $2 million in the next one to three years for roof replacements at the three buildings. "The bomb is ticking away," he said.

The district is also continuing negotiations on contract talks with unions representing employees. The collective bargaining agreements with the nine unions expired June 30 and impact about 500 employees.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 734-241-3610.

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