APS bonds draw voter interest

High number of early ballots returned for May 7 vote

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Charter Township of Alpena Deputy Clerk Dana Malcomson organizes absentee ballots for the May 7 election that have been sent to the clerk’s office. So far, there have been 484 ballots returned. The lone item on the ballot is a 25-year, $63 million bond proposal from Alpena Public Schools that would raise money for facility and security upgrades throughout the school district.

ALPENA — Votes for Alpena Public Schools’ bond proposal already are beginning to roll in by the hundreds to local clerks’ offices, suggesting interest in the issue is strong leading up to the May 7 election.

The school system is asking voters for permission to sell $63 million in bonds, to be repaid through increased property taxes over the next 25 years. Money from the bond sale would be used to upgrade security and make other renovations at school buildings throughout the district. If approved, taxes are expected to rise about 1.9 mills, or about $95 a year for the owner of a $100,000 house, over current school tax rates.

The cost, longevity and purpose of the funding are surely reasons people are choosing to vote early, but a new Michigan law allowing people to vote absentee without reason could also have prompted people to cast ballots before Election Day.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Charter Township of Alpena’s Clerk’s Office has issued 790 ballot applications to registered voters on the township’s list of people who voted by absentee in the past. As of Wednesday afternoon, 484 ballot have been returned.

Township Clerk Michelle Palevich said being able to send out absentee ballot applications to people who may vote will likely make the entire election process in the township run more efficiently. She said it will also be more convenient for residents.

“In the past, we had lines seven people or more deep waiting to get ballots, so we hope this will alleviate the waiting in line for people who come into the office,” Palevich said. “I think it will save us time.”

For people who live in communities that don’t mail out the applications, registered voters can fill one out at their local clerk’s office and the ballot will be mailed to them. Once filled out, the ballot and envelope can be mailed or dropped off at your local clerk’s office. Requests for absentee ballots must be made before 5 p.m. on May 3, and ballots can be returned until 8 p.m. on Election Day.

The City of Alpena, meanwhile, began receiving absentee ballots from voters on March 26 and they are just starting to be returned. According to the city Clerk’s Office, there have been 92 returned, but that number is expected to grow significantly as Election Day nears.

A list of the projects the bond sale would fund is available at alpenaschools.com, after clicking on “Bond Issue.” People who have questions can also contact Superintendent John VanWagoner at 989-358-5042.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ss_alpeanews.com.