Bay moves forward with millage

ESCANABA — Bay College will be moving forward with a new operating millage proposal that includes a millage increase. The Bay College Board of Trustees unanimously agreed to approve language for the millage proposal during a special meeting Monday.

In Delta County’s Nov. 5 election, area voters will 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 .8924 mills ($0.89 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 .7 mill increase to the college’s millage funding. The college would collect an estimated $1,054,256 in the increased millage’s first year.

Bay College President Laura Coleman said the millage increase would create additional costs of approximately $2.97 per month for homeowners with an $80,000 home and $7.44 per month for homeowners with a $200,000 home.

“It’s a reasonable amount that we’re asking people to contribute, I think,” she said.

An early version of the operating millage proposal language called for a millage increase of .9924 mills ($0.99 per $1,000 of taxable value) for 20 years from 2019 to 2038. The proposed increase was reduced in the final version of the proposal due to information provided by energy services company Johnson Controls, which the college is working with on a deferred maintenance project the millage increase would support.

“It became apparent that we could decrease that,” Coleman said.

Despite this, Coleman said the scope of work the millage increase would allow for has expanded.

“With that, we will also be able to do renovations over at the apartment buildings,” she said.

According to Coleman, the college has not requested a millage increase since 1968.

“It’s been quite a long period before we’ve asked for any type of millage increase,” Board Chair Thomas Butch said.

Coleman said Bay has heard some feedback on the millage proposal from members of the public.

“People are curious about it, and so that’s why we’re having a town hall on Friday,” she said.

The session — the first of 50 presentations the college has scheduled on the millage proposal — is set to take place from noon to 1:30 p.m. that day in the Joseph Heirman University Center.

As it has been approved by the Bay College Board of Trustees, the operating millage proposal language will be sent to Delta County Clerk Nancy Przewrocki.

The board also heard a presentation on the deferred maintenance project from representatives of Johnson Controls during Monday’s meeting. This project is set to include upgrades to the college’s lighting fixtures, fire alarm system, roofs, boilers, pumps, humidifier, chillers, water heaters, furnace, generator and HVAC systems, among other improvements.

The project is expected to cost Bay $11,855,220 if financed at an interest rate of 3.3 percent. However, it was said the project will create $173,658 in annual energy savings and almost $40,000 in annual operational savings for the college; these amounts are expected to grow over the life of the increased millage, resulting in Bay seeing over $1 million in net savings by 2038.

Ronald Stimac of Johnson Controls said the project would also allow Bay to significantly reduce its environmental impact.

“It’s the equivalent of planting 73,712 trees in an urban area,” he said regarding the carbon dioxide reduction that would be made possible by the project.