‘Gag order’ lifted, Riverview school officials promote millage

Sunday Times Newspaper

RIVERVIEW – With a temporary lift of “gag order” legislation banning school and city officials from elaborating on ballot proposals, school administrators are happy to now say the March 8 ballot proposal for 18 mills will not affect homeowners’ property taxes.

“This is vital to the operation of our schools,” said Visionary Committee member J.J. Hatzel, adding that the millage feeds $1.88 million annually to the district budget. That’s 8 percent of the district’s $25 million budget.

Riverview Community Schools is asking to continue a millage that was put in place in 1996 for 18 mills levied on commercial, businesses and rental properties in the district. The district levies the money and the state funnels it into the district’s budget. If it fails, the state sends no money.

“It would be devastating to our school and community if it does not pass,” Supt. Russell Pickell said. “Because the gag order is lifted, I’m actually allowed to say that.”

Pickell said the millage levied goes directly to operational costs and educating students.

Public Act 269, also deemed the “gag order” legislation passed in December. It banned public officials from using taxpayers’ money to disseminate information about ballot proposals, robocalling, television, mass mailings or radio ads 60 days prior to the election. It also denied public officials from talking about the elections.

Two pieces of legislation being pushed through the state Legislature; one is to fix and amend the language and another to repeal the law.

Hatzel said once the gag order was temporarily lifted, district officials started robocalling residents and disseminating information about the millage. He said officials worked to get the word out, which they were previously prohibited from doing.

(Tereasa Nims can be reached at dstrporter@gmail.com.)