2012-12-06 / Front Page

Former prison part of new bill

County discusses bill that would offer facility for $1

MANISTIQUE – A bill allowing the sale of former Camp Manistique for $1 has been introduced to the Michigan House of Representatives. During a recent meeting of the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners, the bill and its possible implications was discussed.

The bill, House Bill 6030 of 2012, was introduced on Nov. 8 by Rep. Joan Bauer and stipulates the possible sale of three state-owned properties, one being Camp Manistique. The bill states that the facility will be appraised by an independent appraiser and then offered to local units of government for the sale price of $1.

If the property is not sold to one of the units, the Department of Technology, Management and Budget could then open a competitive bid process, hold a public auction, utilize real estate brokerage services, offer the facility at fair market value or less to local units of government, or convey the property to the Land Bank Fast Track Authority, which sells state-owned property.

“It hasn’t passed, but it’s been made aware that the bill may proceed,” Commissioner Dan LaFoille explained during Thursday’s meeting. “Quite frankly, from my perspective, I think it’s just a liability for us. If we were to accept it for $1, then we’re all of a sudden responsible for it – the maintenance, the upkeep and the marketing.”

According to LaFoille, the last known appraisal completed on the facility set its value at approximately $360,000. He also noted that the bill stipulates the facility must be used for public purposes. In the bill, it is noted that, if the facility is purchased for less than fair market value, the owner must comply with certain stipulations, such as keeping the facility open for public use.

“I don’t know how in the world we would accept responsibility for that,” LaFoille said.

Commissioner Jerry Zellar suggested the possibility of the county buying and selling the facility. The facility has been up for sale since around 2007, LaFoille answered, indicating that it would be a problem to sell.

The bill states if the purchaser decides to sell the property within 10 years of acquiring it, the state will have the first option to purchase the property at the original sale price. If the state waives its right to re-purchase the property, the seller must provide the state with 40 percent of the difference between the original purchase price from the state and the third party sale.

Commissioners noted the bill would be tracked until it passes both the House and Senate.

In other business, Commissioner Craig Reiter reported he had attended a recent Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital Board meeting and walk-through of the new facility.

“They’ve come quite a long ways on that hospital,” he said. “It looks nice, there’s no doubt about it.”

Reiter also expressed concerns about the hospital’s financial state.

“I just hope that it’s (the new facility) everything we need … the feasibility of it,” he said. “The hospital has been having some running in the red, and I just worry, with the new one, it will just be that much more on them. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

According to Reiter, the new facility is still set to open in April 2013, with public tours being planned before the grand opening.

Commissioner Al Grimm noted that the hospital’s finances are difficult for many to understand as individuals, and that the facility will go long stretches without payment, then receive back payments in excess.

The board ended their regular meeting by moving into executive session to discuss various issues, including union negotiations and the potential Schoolcraft County Deputy’s Association employee grievance.

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