Closing Argument To Stop The TCAPS Millage

The election is upon us.

Voters will decide if it is worth forcing property owners to pay an additional 0.8 mil in taxes for the luxury of a Performing Art Center, destruction of wealth, and an open ended slush fund for the school district’s physical desires. Part of the plan is of course to extend the FULL 3.9mil an additional 5 years.

If the bond request passes.

Lets clarify the slices of pie TCAPs is asking the taxpayers to put on its plate.

The Performing Arts Center

Sunday’s (November 04, 2012) Record Eagle ad and also similar postcards sent out by TCAPS Citizens for Students in its pie graph uses the term “CHS Renovation” to represent its current version of the $26.5 million Performing Arts Center. This language is now consistent, and closely matches that of School board member Scott Hardy who advised the TCAPS board to deceive voters with the language “renovation” rather than face an obvious backlash for a perceived and very real luxury of “Performing Arts Center”.

The pie shows it as a 16% component of proposed projects, which is also misleading in the way it suggests that it is a ‘small part’ of the overall project. The 16% figure is arrived at by taking the already approved and remaining from 2007 $65 million bond, and adding it to the requested $100 million on this go-round. $26.5 million is exactly 16% of $165 million.

The other deception the TCAPS board and its shill organization (TCAPS Citizens for Students – which is coincidentally run by a finance director for the schools, and funded by the local chamber) attempts, is the canard that it is ONLY $18 million that is being spent on the auditorium. They explain that the other amounts are for “school improvements, office moves, and new entry areas.” Though all of those can be verifiably true, they also gloss over the fact that without the auditorium, NONE of the additional improvements would be necessary.

The Performing arts Center is in fact, the sole source of the “CHS renovation” expense.

Elementary School Reconstructs

The 34% of the $165 million total the school is asking for taxpayers to give a green light, is being spent on destroying physical assets, then replacing them with newer construction.

Eastern elementary is a 55 year old brick and steel building. It is a solid structure, that needs a little attention. The roof apparently leaks in hard rains, which begs the question: “Why will our school board not properly maintain its facilities?” The answer might well be that they expect voters to give them additional moneys to start with their planned reconstructs, and do not wish to expend on something that will be torn down anyhow.

A fair reason, except in the meantime, it poses a safety and health risk to our children. It ASSUMES the bond will pass.

Interlochen Elementary (62 years old – still only middle aged by institutional standards) is another which likely has the same type of reasoning for its planned reconstruct.

The plans for these two schools is analogous to having a flat tire on a car. The replacement of the entire car being the closest response the board could come up with for dealing with the flat.


Central Grade School is another story entirely.

The 90 year old building has undergone renovation in the past, yet is still an old structure. Yet in THIS case, renovation is handled differently. No complete tear down, but an interior upgrade maintaining the old school facade. The cost of $26 million is the result of the desire to maintain its historic image, and neighborhood location. What might the costs be, if the school was instead (as an option of outside the box thinking) sold to a private developer to renovate as apartments, condos, etc., and the school itself moved?

We may never know as that question will likely never come up.

Other costs in the Pie chart

28% listed as district infrastructure needs. That is $46 million dollars. No specifics. Simply a general ‘doors and things’ type of explanation. No specified expenses, but rather an open ended ‘slush fund’ opportunity for the TCAPS board and superintendent Stephen Cousins. Let me repeat .. Slush Fund.

  • 6% for buses $9.9million
  • 12% Technology infrastructure $19.8 million, and a chance for all K-12 (yes kindergartners included) to have iPads as well as the $1.8 million and $8 million or so pocket change for planned IT improvements.
  • 2% for athletic concerns $3.3 million.
  • 1% for maintenance. – Do we really need to comment on this? (yes – some is included in the previously mentioned slush fund)

That sure is SOME pie!

what if the bond does NOT pass?

There is still $65 million for the next 5 years.

Within that amount, there is room for a $10 million unneeded rebuilds of Eastern, Interlochen, and Glenn Loomis AND Central. Along with the $3 million stated maintenance need for each of those five years. At the point when the approved bonds expire, the district can ask for more.

Not only that, but if the economy recovers, we would also see improvement in the 18 mil operations end (paid by non homestead) as well.


This bond request is an overreach.

It assumes that the taxpayers can afford another round of higher expenses.

It assumes need where there is only luxury.

This is not the time to be placing an even heavier weight on the backs of taxpayers. It is not the time to be assuming that because other communities are assuming higher millages and burdens on THEIR citizens, that it is appropriate to do so here.

It IS the time for the traverse City Area Public Schools board to appropriately manage the facility needs, and apply proper maintenance ensuring longer usefulness, and efficiency from our assets.

The millage request based on the facts presented here, should be declined.






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