Detroit voters approve renewing school district fund that supports debt payment

It was the first millage election since 2016, when Michigan lawmakers OK’d a $617 million plan to address crushing debt in the city’s school district. (Koby Levin)

Detroit voters on Tuesday approved the renewal of an important revenue source for the city school district that helps pay off debt.

The measure passed by a vote of 93,301 yes to 17,055 no, according to unofficial vote totals. 

Money generated from the millage, expected to amount to $65 million in 2023, goes toward paying off old school debt. The millage is funded by the owners of non-homestead properties, which include commercial, industrial, rental, and vacation properties. 

It was the first tax proposal since 2016, when Michigan lawmakers OK’d a $617 million plan to address crushing debt in the city’s school district. That initiative created a new district — the Detroit Public Schools Community District — to educate students. The old district — Detroit Public Schools — continues to exist, but only to pay taxes and pay off debt. School officials expect the operational debt to be paid in full by 2027. 

The 2016 debt plan also ensured the new district — DPSCD — would be able to operate with funding from the state’s School Aid Fund.

“I want to deeply thank Detroit voters for the confidence and hope they place in our district to serve our children,” Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said in a statement. “The overwhelming vote of approval on the renewal millage tells us that our reform work is supported by the community. The vote should only motivate us more to continue to work hard to provide our children with the education they deserve.”

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