Voter Guide for May 2 School Bond Vote

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Monday, May 1, 2017, 7:29 am
Alice Dreger

Registered voters within the East Lansing Public Schools District boundary can vote on the school bond proposal on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Here’s a rundown of what you may need to know about this special election:

What’s on the ballot? Voters will decide whether to pass a new school bond for the East Lansing Public Schools not to exceed $93,770,000, or about $94 million. The money is to be used for demolishing and replacing five elementary schools: Marble, Pinecrest, Whitehills, Donley, and Glencairn. Funds will also be used to update and upgrade the Red Cedar School.

If a majority of voters votes “yes” on this ballot, property owners will pay back the bond and interest through increased property taxes for up to twenty-five years.

If you want to see the ballot language, click here.

How much would this increase property taxes? This is a more complicated question than it at first appears because of the ending of other debt, the way bond repayment works, etc. The ballot language says the estimated millage would be 2.11 mills, and “the estimated simple average annual millage anticipated to be required to retire this bond debt is 4.45 mills.”

An analysis provided for ELi using data from the District indicates that over the next decade, a “yes” vote would increase property taxes between 3.25 and 5.0 mills compared to what we would see with a “no” vote.

A mill of increase is an increase of $1 for every $1,000 of taxable value of your property. You can look at your tax bill to see the taxable value. In general, your taxable value is about half of the market value. So, if you want to figure out roughly what this would cost for your property, take your property’s estimated market value, divide it by 2,000, and multiply it by the number of mills expected to be levied, and that will tell you the tax increase amount.

Not every registered voter in East Lansing can vote, and some people outside East Lansing can vote: The ELPS District boundaries are not the same as the City of East Lansing’s boundaries. To find out if you can vote in this special election, contact the office of the City Clerk or go to

Find out where you vote: If you aren’t sure of your polling location, contact the office of the City Clerk or go to

Polling hours: The polls will be open on Tuesday, May 2, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

How to vote absentee: According to the City Clerk, “Absentee voters have until 4 p.m. on the day before the election to obtain and vote an absentee ballot in person at the City Clerk’s office.” That means Monday, May 1, 4 p.m. is the deadline for voting absentee at the Clerk’s office in City Hall (410 Abbot Road). Note the Clerk is also offering Saturday hours on April 29, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

What do supporters and opponents say about the bond proposal? It would be difficult for us to provide all of their arguments, but we have provided an overview here. ELi also covered news of talks between MSU and the District administration with regard to possible uses of the Red Cedar School here. And we covered what the School Board and others had to say at the time the Board voted forward the bond proposal here.

Finally: As a reminder, ELi provides nonpartisan, nonprofit news to the people of East Lansing. As a consequence, unlike some other news sources, ELi doesn’t tell you how you should vote; we provide information we think voters would want.

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