2018-02-08 / Front Page

District will seek millage

Conservation District needs funds for operations

MANISTIQUE – The Schoolcraft Conservation District will seek the public’s support this year to fund its operations. Language for a county-wide millage was recently approved by the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners.

According to Bruce Birr, district manager of the SCD, the millage will be presented to Schoolcraft County voters during the first county-wide election of 2018 – likely in August.

“The board of directors for the conservation district wanted to proceed with another attempt at getting a millage,” Birr explained.

In November, the SCD attempted to raise their millage capture, but that effort was narrowly defeated by just 42 votes. A total of 989 Schoolcraft County voters cast ballots against the proposal, while 947 residents voted in favor of the request.

Birr said the 2018 proposal will authorize a millage at the rate of 0.22 mills (22 cents per thousand dollars of taxable value) to replace the expired millage authorization of 0.0535 mills, which voters previously approved in August of 2012. That authorized millage expired in 2017. The SCD collected funds from the 2017 winter taxes to operate through 2018, but those funds are primarily directed toward operational costs.

A written explanation for the millage proposal presented to commissioners, stated: “The revenue raised from this millage would be used to fund natural resources conservation projects and programs in Schoolcraft County. Recently, the district has implemented grantfunding wildlife improvement projects, provided forestry assistance to private landowners, conducted the annual district workshop, and organized and held a scrap tire collection event. The district also provided education both inside and outside of local schools, and provided a scholarship for forestry education. The increase in funding from this millage would enable the district to bring more funds into the county, and allow it to implement larger and more effective projects.

“It’s really something that’s needed to give you the flexibility,” said Larry Mersnick, board chairperson. “I don’t know how you … get by. There’s a lot of things you help people with – from the trees to the tires to other things. You do a nice thing for us, so thank you for that.”

The millage language appearing on the ballot will state: “Shall the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be imposed on taxable property in the county of Schoolcraft, Michigan, be reestablished at the rate of 022 mils (22 cents per thousand dollars of taxable value) for a period of 10 years, 2018 to 2027 inclusive, to provide funding for conservation, forestry and education purposes by the Schoolcraft Conservation District. It is estimated that the proposal, if approved by the voters, would raise approximately $78,240 when first levied in 2017.”

Services provided by the SCD include: an annual tree sale, workshops, receipt and implementation of grants (past grants include Scrap Tire Collection and Deer Habitat Improvement), invasive species control (in cooperation with Alger Conservation District), support for the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program and the Quality Forest Program (in cooperation with Delta Conservation District), Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control permitting, and other conservation related services.

Commissioners unanimously approved the Schoolcraft Conservation District millage language to appear on the ballot of the next election.

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