2013-05-16 / Front Page

City council approves DDA plan

Organization will move ahead with projects

MANISTIQUE – The Manistique Downtown Development Authority is now free to commence its upcoming and future projects, thanks to the approval of its Tax Increment Financing and Development Plan amendment. On Monday, Manistique City Council members voted unanimously to pass the ordinance approving the amendment, which includes an extension of the organization.

The DDA has been seeking to amend its original TIF plan since learning in 2012 that it had been approved for a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Waterways Commission grant. The grant will cover 50 percent of an approximately $4.2 million marina renovation project. The project includes: construction of new broadside docking, replacing binwalls, constructing new floating piers, installing pumpout stations and a fuel station, constructing a new harbormaster’s house and public restrooms, constructing parking lot improvements and installing playground equipment.

In light of the amount the DDA would need to pay its match, the authority sought to amend the original 1988 TIF plan. Along with a list of new goals and projects of the DDA, the amendment to the TIF plan also includes an extension of the Authority, which was set to expire in 2018. The extension will allow for financing the grant match over the course of approximately 20 years.

“(I’d) just like to thank council for their adoption of our TIF plan amendments,” DDA Chairperson Rick Demers said Monday. “It’s no secret that that process met with some controversy. With that said, I’d also like to commend council on their vision and guidance and look forward to working with you on future projects.”

Recently, the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners had actively campaigned against a possible extension of the DDA, saying the organization filters much-needed funds away from the county general fund. Members of the board approved an open letter to the public expressing their opinion, asking the DDA to consider a tax-sharing agreement, and also encouraging the public to attend a recent public hearing addressing the TIF plan amendment.

In their meeting Thursday, board members also approved sending a letter to the Manistique city clerk, the DDA chairperson, as well as the DDA’s bond attorney, Miller Canfield. Though the county does not currently have the authority to deny a DDA extension, that privilege lies solely with the city, Audit Finance Chairperson Dan La- Foille said they would submit the letter in case legislation changes.

“Due to the fact that our tax sharing agreement request was denied, we are enclosing a resolution … opting out of the Manistique Downtown Development Authority and any extensions they may approve and adopt,” he said, reading the letter for the public. “It is the intent of Schoolcraft County to exercise our right to opt out now, and in the future, should the opportunity arise through future legislation.”

During Monday’s meeting, Mayor David Peterson expressed his appreciation for the DDA and that the controversy is now over.

“Hopefully the projects that we’ve got lined up here go smoothly,” he said.

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