MARQUETTE - The president of the Upper Peninsula Petroleum Association is amending statements made during a June 5 Marquette Township Board meeting, in which she alleged that Marquette Area Public Schools could stand to lose $4.4 million annually were a Keweenaw Bay Indian Community gas station to be built in Marquette Township.
"Now, after doing more research, as you can see in the state constitution, it plainly states the sales taxes the KBIC won't be collecting are going to the state school education fund," UPPA President Brooke Ferns said. "That will be distributed to schools across the state. It would be hard to believe that MAPS wouldn't be affected by any of that funding if the state wasn't collecting that money."
Article IX of the Michigan Constitution ensures 2 percent of the state's 6 percent sales tax goes to the state school aid fund, as does 60 percent of the remaining 4 percent of sales tax.
Ferns originally said during the June 5 meeting that MAPS, rather than the state, would directly lose $4.4 million.
Ferns' presentation, entitled "A KBIC Gas Station in Marquette Township will Severely Damage Local Businesses and Deprive Schools of Critical Funding if it is not Required to Pay Sales Tax," stated "In 2011, retailers in Marquette County collected approximately $6,700,000 in gasoline sales taxes. Of that amount, about $4,900,000 went to fund Marquette Area Public Schools (MAPS)."
The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community is applying to place the land the proposed gas station would be built on into trust by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, which would exempt the station from paying property or sales taxes.
Ferns alleged during the meeting that MAPS could stand to lose $4.4 million annually if a KBIC gas station - which is slated to be in the former Los Tres Amigos lot - was built, since it would not be required to pay sales tax.
MAPS Assistant Superintendent for Finance Deb Barry said that's simply not the case.
"It's all property based. If that came offline, if that piece of property was deleted from the tax rolls for property values, we could basically lose the tax on that from the local per pupil effort," Barry said. "However, our per pupil, our count of students would still remain the same and the state would still get us up to the foundation amount on the state side."
The state funds schools by setting a standard, per pupil allotment, often referred to as a foundation allowance. The state then makes up the difference between what each district collects in local tax revenues and that previously set allowance.
Marquette Township Manager Randy Girard said Thursday if the KBIC's township land were placed into trust, making it exempt from local property taxes, the township would lose roughly $4,000 in revenue annually.
Ferns said in an interview Thursday she should have said the $4.4 million loss would affect the state aid fund, though she said MAPS still stands to lose something were a KBIC station to move to town.
"It will go into the school's state education fund, but to say that wouldn't have any affect on MAPS, I think may be a little bit misguided, especially when MAPS has been reporting a lot about a budget shortfall," Ferns said.
Barry said the total amount of the state aid fund for the 2011-2012 school year was roughly $10 billion, so a loss of $4.4 million to that fund would not have much of an impact on MAPS.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.