Saline bond proposal, video draw questions

SALINE, Mich. — Saline Area Schools residents spoke for and against a $22 million bond proposal during a recent forum, with some taxpayers saying it’s too expensive and others citing the need for repairs and infrastructure, according to The Saline Reporter.

In related news, the district removed a video about the bond from the district website after questions arose about whether the district was inappropriately using public resources to advocate a “yes” vote, reported.

Residents will vote Feb. 22 on the proposal, which would not increase the tax rate, but would extend it for six additional years, from 2024 to 2030, according to The Reporter.

Judy McCoy, a member of the group “We Can’t Afford It,” told The Reporter that one concern is that the bond language does not include anticipated interest payments of $7 million, and that the total cost would be $29 million.

Superintendent Scot Graden said the district cannot cut the budget enough to pay for roofs and buses, even if it negotiates concessions from teachers during coming contract talks, The Reporter said.

The district removed a video in which Doug Bacon, director of facilities, asked for “support” of the bond, but not explicitly a “yes” vote, reported. Attorneys differed on whether the video violated election rules that bar the use of public resources to advocate for or against a proposal. An attorney with the Thrun Law Firm told that Bacon’s comments were not a violation, but Bob LaBrant, general counsel with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, said that asking for support is equivalent to advocating a yes vote.

The Saline Reporter, “Saline: Opposition surfaces against school bond proposal,” Feb. 9, 2011, “Saline school district removes pro-bond proposal video, but says it didn’t violate campaign laws,” Feb. 15, 2011

Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Legal Experts Say Saline Schools Broke Campaign Finance Laws,” Feb. 15, 2011