The $7 Million vote; Boyne City Millage likely to go to a May Vote

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Benjamin Gohs

News Editor

Armed with positive feedback and a looming ballot deadline, Boyne City officials will have one more meeting to discuss whether they will ask voters for a 20-year, $7 million facilities improvements millage in May.

The Boyne City Commission held a hearing on the matter—which drew a negligible portion of the population—during its regular Tuesday Jan. 27 meeting.

“Our current 15.51 mills levy is the lowest rate we’ve had in some 34-35 years,” said Boyne City Manager Michael Cain. “We have had a high, I think it was back in the early 1990s, of 21.40 mills. A big chunk of that was infrastructure that the city commission went to the taxpayers for, and they were paying five mills on top of the regular millage at that time.”

The millage that could be proposed to taxpayers on the May 5 ballot would last for 20 years at a rate of 2.7 mills.

According to Cain, the average cost of the millage to a residential property owner would be $133 for every $100,000 their home is worth.

The most current estimate for the city facilities project is $6,948,000

“If you’re gonna borrow, this is a good time to borrow,” said Cain.

The city has nearly enough money saved to pay for the $2.6 million Department of Public Works project—that is part of the overall city facilities improvement project—which is close to going out for bids.

The 2.7 mills figure is equal to 35 to 40 percent of Boyne City’s bond capacity, which means the city could raise even more money from taxpayers for other projects if it so chooses in the future.

Cain discussed the degraded state of Boyne City’s current municipal facilities, saying they have been “patched to the end of their patching life and really need to be replaced.”

“If for some reason we are going to keep these buildings operating for a number of years going forward, we are going to have to put some money back into them, and I’m not talking about thousands of dollars, I’m talking about at least tens of thousands of dollars as we’re going forward,” said Cain.

Lori Meeder, who was appointed Boyne City Main Street Program Manager late last week, said she fully supported the proposed city facilities project and the millage necessary to fund it.

“We have a beautiful and historic town,” she said. “We’ve taken such great care in strategic measures to build our downtown district to its historic integrity—and, yet, our city complex that sits on our beautiful Lake Charlevoix shoreline, and should be the pride of our community, is old, outdated, inefficient.”

Several other members of the public lauded the city’s effort to improve its DPW, city hall, EMS, fire and police department.

Boyne City Commissioner Derek Gaylord said he wants to present the citizens with the facts and let the citizens decide.

“The information tonight is probably the most complete, concise that we’ve had so far,” Gaylord said.

Gaylord also pointed out that the interest on the aforementioned 20-year millage—at 4.25 percent—would total nearly $3.5 million.

City staff was directed to draft a ballot for a millage sufficient to raise $7 million.

The commission voted unanimously 4-0 to change the time of its Tuesday Feb. 10 meeting from 7 p.m. to noon so it has time to discuss the matter further prior to the 4 p.m. Feb. 10 Charlevoix County Clerk’s filing deadline to get this millage on the Tuesday May 5 ballot.

Boyne City Mayor Ron Grunch was physically absent from the meeting and did not vote, but did participate in the discussion by phone. To see more details and answers to frequently asked questions about this proposal, go to