Negaunee Township millages placed on Tuesday’s ballot

NEGAUNEE — Negaunee Township officials are placing two new millages on Tuesday’s ballot, but the amount of property tax collected from residents will not increase.

The township board elected to split its current 2-mill millage community center and recreation millage into a .85 mill community center millage and a 1.15 mill recreational facilities and programs millage.

According to ballot language, the .85 mill millage for the community center, if approved by voters, is expected to generate $127,790 the first year it is levied. The 20 year millage will be dedicated to the operation and maintenance of the operation and maintenance of the Negaunee Township Community Center and grounds.

The 1.15 mill recreational facilities and programs millage, if approved, is expected to generate $172,893 in the first year it is levied. The millage, which is dedicated to the operation and maintenance of recreational facilities and programs within Neguanee Township, would be levied for 20 years.

The ballot information on the Marquette County website states that the millage split will “place the operation of Negaunee Township in better alignment with Michigan state statute and improve revenue / expense control by designated activity.”

Township Board Trustee Gary Wommer said the split became necessary after the township officials brought a question about a proposed project to build a $175,000 soccer field on township property to an attorney.

The township has assessed a millage for the community building and grounds maintenance and upkeep since 1959, Wommer said.

“As the township grew and the community desired more recreational opportunities the millage was increased to provide funding for them and the Community Building Board members provided excellent guidance and diligence in expanding our recreational grounds and programs that we now have,” Wommer said.

He said when it came time to plan for the proposed Class A soccer field, the township conducted business as usual.

“We had all the money in the building and rec (reation) fund. We were talking to the attorney because we wanted to make sure that we bid it properly so that there were no mistakes. So the attorney got the package…, and he came back to us and he said, “Well, you are paying for this out of this fund, but this fund is for the building and its not for recreation, and the two laws are different. No one had ever told us that before.”

He said millage changes in the state of Michigan are required to use the term “increase” even in cases where the proposed millage does not represent an additional tax burden.

“The sad part of it is, and we worked really hard to try to get the ballot to look like we wanted, but…any change in millage is an increase.” Wommer said. “Even though we are going to take the two mills and go to .85 for the building and 1.15 for rec, that is not an increase.”

As for the new soccer field, that will have to wait until the millages are split, Wommer said.

“So we’ll make a recreation committee and a building committee and we will separate the funds and we’ll split it and that is where we are right now,” Wommer said. “(And) once we get this millage split properly, then we are going to go ahead and appoint a recreation commission and things will go well. We have already got the paperwork the funding split and everything like that so its ready to go, but we are not going to move anything until we get this millage done.”

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.