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Sunday, April 5, 2020

Van Buren residents vote in favor of special education tax increase


By Elle Johnson | Mar 19, 2020

Ernesto Eslava / Pixabay

The majority of voters in Van Buren County showed during the recent primary election that they support a tax increase, which would fund special-education programs.

According to MLive, approximately 3,000 more voters supported a 0.9-mill increase in taxes, which would raise $4 million a year for the special-education programs in the school districts. In total, 10,183 voters were in favor of the tax increase (58.5%) and 7,226 voters were against the increase (41.5%).

Van Buren, Kalamazoo, Allegan, Berrien and Cass counties all voted for the proposed tax increase. 

Jeff Mills, superintendent of the Van Buren Intermediate School Distrtict (ISD), said the results of the primary election were very positive due to the amount of people supporting the tax increase. 

“I am very appreciative — on behalf of the board and staff members — that the voters approved this,” Mills told MLive.

Special-education tax is currently at 3.3177 mills, but the new tax would increase it to $3,730,173 a year for five years. This would total to $18,650,865, the ISD said. 

The tax will cover the costs of individual school districts' operations and renovations for the ISD facilities that cater to special-education students in Van Buren's 11 school districts, the ISD said. The 11 school districts are: South Haven, Paw Paw, Mattawan, Lawton, Lawrence, Hartford, Gobles, Decatur, Covert, Bloomingdale and Bangor. 

The increased tax would come to $45 a year for a person with a property value of $100,000.

Renovations -- including a new HVAC system, new classroom floors and asphalt parking lots -- will be covered with the funding from the tax. There will also be a building remodel for the Special Services building, and the Behavioral Education Center will receive upgrades as well, the ISD said. New programs and services may also be offered at the Behavioral Education Center. 

The ISD said it expects the project to cost $8.5 million. 

Special-education reimbursement will also be increased by $2 million, according to the ISD. Currently, the ISD only reimburses $1 million for special education, according to MLive.

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Van Buren ISD

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