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Hamtramck schools to request millage renewal again

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Voters rejected a request Tuesday to renew Hamtramck Public Schools’ operating millage, but school officials aren’t giving up.

The district said it plans to bring the proposal to voters again in August.

A renewal of the non-homestead 18.18 millage would have continued funding for the district beyond December 2015. Without it, the district will lose $1.88 million annually and school programs would have to be cut or reduced, officials said.

“It affects everything,” said Thomas Niczay, Hamtramck Public Schools superintendent. “It’s our operating monies. It would affect staffing, supplies, everything.”

About 58 percent of Tuesday’s voters rejected the millage renewal.

Niczay said he believed the rejection came after campaign fliers and postcards were sent to some Hamtramck homes this week stating that the millage would result in a $500 tax increase for homeowners. Not true, Niczay said.

“I’m very surprised,” he said. “I’m saddened that people would stoop to lying ... It’s a shame someone is sabotaging the school system.”

The 10-year millage, last renewed in 2005, affects commercial properties and rental homes.

The postcard stated: “Vote No on the $500 Hamtramck District Property Tax Increase.” The only attribution on the postcard is “Published by: Hamtramck Residents.” Not stating the origin of a campaign mailing is illegal, Niczay said.

“Generally speaking, printed campaign materials that expressly advocate how people vote must carry a statement identifying who paid for the ad,” said Fred Woodhams, spokesman for the secretary of state.

Woodhams said he could not comment on specific fliers but cited the Michigan Campaign Finance Act, which states: “All printed matter having reference to a candidate, election or a ballot question ... must contain the words: “Paid for by” followed by the full name of the person or committee paying for the material and the person’s or committee’s street number or post office box, city or town, state and ZIP code.”

Niczay said his office will investigate the source of the campaign materials.

Elsewhere in Wayne County, voters in Dearborn Heights School District #7 rejected by 52 percent a technology bond that would levy 2.75 mills in 2015 and 3.8 mills annually until 2025.

In Wyandotte, voters passed by 64 percent a bond that would levy 2.39 mills in 2015 and 5.79 mills annually for Wyandotte Public Schools.

cwilliams@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2311