Muskegon Heights Emergency Manager: debt should be repaid by 2041
Don Weatherspoon Photo credit: woodtv.com
Caroline MacGregor June 25, 2013 | WGVU “have an operator
One year after
he was called upon by Governor Rick Snyder to help pull an ailing school
district out of financial ruin, Muskegon Heights Public Schools Emergency
Manager, Donald Weatherspoon, says they’re on track with a plan to attack a mountain
of debt or what he terms “legacy costs." This fall, that plan must be handed
over to the Department of Treasury with the assurance the district is able to
sustain itself as far as taxes and revenues.
has a total debt load of 26 million dollars,19 million of which is the bond for
the high school and an emergency state loan fund of 11 million which could
decline in taxable value of property hasn’t helped. Tax collection for the
district has a delinquency rate of nearly 35 percent – a trend now for five
years. Borrowing money to pay the difference translates to more time to pay off the debt.
Last fall, voters in Muskegon Heights opted to renew the non-homestead
tax of 18 mills for another 16 years. Weatherspoon
considers 2028 another critical date for the 18 mil tax to be renewed. But
while his job is projecting for a future he can’t predict, he’s confident there'll
be enough money to pay the non-homestead tax.
He’s also working with state legislators like
Senator Geoff Hanson to propose legislation to allow a K-12 district that’s
been chartered to benefit from special elections. Current law prevents charter schools from
participating as in the case of a 1 mill property
tax for technology upgrades proposed this fall.
says next year a transition team will operate at the state level, while on the
local level, the district can focus on academics and annual operating costs of 200-thousand dollars.
Part of next year's
transition plan includes Weatherspoon to be withdrawn as emergency manager but the final decision is up to the
The full updated operation plan for MHPS is available today on the
district’s website: www.mhpsnet.org.
On August 9th, a second public forum will
focus on academic performance with charter operator Mosaica Education under the
spotlight for accountability.
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