Some Northville school district residents said they want their school to remain small. Others said they don't want their school taxes to go up.
That combination of opinions contributed to the rejection of the proposed merger between the Mayfield and Northville central school districts Tuesday.
According to the results, Mayfield voters approved the merger, 386-273, but Northville voters rejected it, 670-309.
Patricia Walter, a resident in the Northville Central School district, signs in to vote Tuesday.
The Leader-Herald/Arthur Cleveland
Support from voters in both districts was required to approve the merger.
As a result of Tuesday's vote, neither district can pursue a merger with another school district for a year.
Sheldon Ginter, Northville Board of Education president, said he believed the vote failed because of Northville residents' concerns about a tax increase that would result from the merger.
The 2013-14 tax bill for a home with a true value of $100,000 would be $1,664 in Mayfield and $1,118 in Northville, according to the merger study. If the districts had merged and followed the suggestions of the feasibility study, the estimated school tax bill would be $1,245 for that property, meaning Northville's tax bills would go up.
"I really think that votes in Northville rejected this because of the 10 percent tax increase," Ginter said.
Patricia Walter of Northville said she preferred her small school to a large district.
"I just don't want it," Walter said.
Walter said her granddaughter loves the Northville school district and would rather leave the district than graduate from a combined Northville-Mayfield school.
Michelle Ward, a Mayfield resident, said she voted against the merger because she did not want her children to travel long distances for school.
"I like having my children in a smaller district," Ward said. "I like my kids close to home."
Michael Telfer, who lives in the Mayfield district, said the merger would not work out in the long run.
"It might be good in the first year, but I just see it going downhill," Telfer said. "I think it is going to be a problem."
Northville resident John Weaver was among the supporters of a merger. He graduated from the district and said he is concerned about opportunities for his children.
"I want to make sure they have an opportunity," Weaver said. "I just want what is best for my kids.
"I want the small-town feel too, but I think it is just inevitable, really, and we can have that small-town feel at home because that is what I grew up in," Weaver said.
Ginter said the Northville district now will have to "get their house in order."
"If we are just going to maintain what we have, not restore everything we cut in the past, we're looking at exceeding the [2 percent state-imposed tax cap]," Ginter said. "So people are going to have to vote to approve exceeding the cap just to maintain the status quo. Minus doing that, we are just going to be losing services."
Eugene Clapper, a Mayfield Board of Education president, said the districts now will need to search for permanent superintendents for their districts.
"We have to stabilize right now," Clapper said.
Northville Interim Superintendent Debra Lynker said her district would go forward from here.
"I'm satisfied the voters of Northville have had their say, " Lynker said. "I'm just pleased that so many of them came out."
Lynker said she hoped those who voted would come back to support the 2014-15 school budget.
Arthur Cleveland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org