Bay’s tax rate increase plan moves forward

ESCANABA — The Bay College Board of Trustees voted to accept language for an operating millage proposal on first reading during its regular meeting Wednesday. The board’s final vote on the language, which focuses on a potential millage increase of almost 1 mill, is expected to take place next month.

If the language goes forward in its current state, Delta County voters would be asked whether or not they are in favor of increasing the limitation on the amount of taxes that can be assessed against all property in Bay’s district boundaries by .9924 mills ($0.99 per $1,000 of taxable value) for 20 years from 2019 to 2038, inclusive.

The approval of the proposal by voters would allow for the restoration of .1924 mills already approved by voters but not collected by Bay as a result of the Headlee Amendment and for a .8 mill increase to the college’s millage funding. Bay’s millage funding would go up by approximately $1,172,393 in the increased millage’s first year.

During Wednesday’s meeting, the board voted unanimously to accept the proposed millage language on first reading. The board’s vote does not mean the language has been authorized to go forward, as it must be approved on second reading for this to happen. This vote is set to be taken at the board’s next regular meeting, scheduled for July 17.

Before the board voted to accept the language on first reading, Secretary Philip Strom spoke about providing an opportunity for the public to comment on this topic.

“Without question, I support the first reading of this, but really want to make sure that — as an institution — we are providing adequate public hearing (to the) community. I know we will, but I think that’s important,” he said.

In response, President Laura Coleman said people will be able to share their thoughts on the language at the July 17 meeting.

After Wednesday’s meeting, a small group of board members toured the Catherine Bonifas Building and the Hub. During the tour, which was led by Vice President of Operations Christine Williams, the group had a chance to see the current state of infrastructure in these facilities.

A proposed multimillion-dollar deferred maintenance project would include infrastructure improvements to various Bay buildings. If Bay’s millage increase request goes forward and is approved by Delta County voters, the increase would support the maintenance project and other initiatives.

In other business, the board:

– heard a presentation on Bay’s innovation grant fund from Vice President of College Advancement Kim Carne and Dean of Arts & Sciences Amy Reddinger.

– officially approved Bay’s application for a special liquor license. The license would allow for beer and wine to be served during a Business After Hours event on Sept. 25.

– held a special dinner meeting with new college employees before its regular meeting.

– re-appointed Strom as Bay’s trustee director on the Michigan Community College Association Board of Directors for 2019-20 and Joy Hopkins as his alternate.

– re-appointed Susan Hadley, Russ Kassin and Bob Koerschner to the Bay College West Advisory Board.

– heard about how Bay students did at the Business Professionals of America National Leadership Conference. The information was presented by participating students Dylan Bloniarz, Clay Johnson, Tristan Kuntze and Maia Roll.

– presented the TORCH Award to Business Development Manager Renee Lundberg.

– approved a resolution of appreciation to retiring Director of Bay College West Student Services Laura Moloney.