February 8, 2016

Board considers millage increase proposal

By James Kuch
Staff Writer | reporter2@ogemawherald.com

STANDISH — The Arenac County Board of Commissioners will vote May 25 on whether to add an increased millage proposal for the county to the August Primary Ballot.

Arenac County Treasurer Dennis Stawowy said the county is allowed to collect the millage at 5.2 mills, but is currently collecting 4.9176 mills.

“We have three-tenths of a mill that we could collect not being collected,” Stawowy said.

Stawowy said a renewal of the millage would give the county around $160,000 and that if the renewal is passed, it would cost about $7 a parcel.

“For example, if someone has a $100,000 house, it would cost them about $15 a year,” he said. “Until we renew the original amount, we will be stuck with less.”

Board Chairman Raymond Daniels said an increased millage would add revenue to townships and help continue county services.

Stawowy said the county has continued to make cuts to maintain services. He said employees are paying around $500 a month for medical insurance and the county building has also seen a cutback in the hours that it’s open.

“It would be helpful to have the building open more,” Stawowy said. “It was open eight and a half hours a day, now it’s only open seven.”

Daniels said without a millage increase, services would have to change.

“Right now we have no extra employees,” Daniels said. “We may even have to go to a four-day workweek down the road. So far we have kept things going.”

Stawowy said that the county needs this money because state revenue sharing was cut in 2005.

Daniels said in 2012 the money from the revenue share fund, which serves as a reserve fund for the county, would be depleted, unless changes are made by the state. The county has taken approximately $300,000 from the fund annually to balance its budget over the past few years.

Commissioner Ronald Branda said the county would be roughly $150,000 short in the revenue share fund in 2011, unless the state reinstates revenue sharing.

“The state is taking $50 million out of their budget and keeping it for themselves.” Stawowy said.

One effect of the millage not passing would be the scaling back of the services at the jail, which is the county’s largest department, Stawowy said.

“Cutting back the jail would make it less safe for everyone,” he said. “What we do as a county is provide services. That takes peoples’ labor.”

Daniels said if the vote is not placed on the August Primary ballot, it could be on the November ballot.

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