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EL Land Sale, Local Millage Proposals Go To Voters Tuesday

bridge and rocks
Alec Gerstenberger
/
WKAR-MSU
Mid-Michigan residents will vote on several millage proposals on Tuesday, including a county parks millage renewal that would extend the current millage for five years. Pictured here is the Lansing River Trail bridge near the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing.

Along with the presidential primary on Tuesday, voters have a number of proposals to consider.

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WKAR's Kevin Lavery reports on proposals to re-authorize the Ingham County health services millage and to restore a special education funding millage to its original authorization.

East Lansing land sale to MSUFCU

In East Lansing, the city council would be authorized to sell the northwest corner of Albert Avenue and Abbot Road to the MSU Federal Credit Union under a proposal on Tuesday’s ballot.

MSUFCU would construct a building of up to eight stories, at a height of no more than 112 feet.

In December, credit union president and CEO April Clobes said the building would replace the branch currently leased on Grand River Avenue. “We are intending to have a community room space," Clobes told WKAR, "and several floors of office space for future growth.”

Currently known as parking lot number four, the credit union would purchase the property for the appraised value of $810-thousand dollars.

Potter Park Zoo millage proposal

One of the millage proposals on the ballot in Ingham County would help fund operations at Lansing’s Potter Park Zoo through 2026.

Director Cynthia Wagner says some buildings at the zoo are up to 80 years old and in need of improvements. She adds that fixing up the zoo’s pathways is another goal, saying “we’re working really hard on becoming more accessible and inclusive. Improving the paths would be incredibly valuable for our guests.”

The zoo’s operational millage has been in place since 2006. This proposal would raise the millage rate from 0.41 to 0.5 mills.

If approved and levied in full, the millage would provide an addition $600-to-$700-thousand for the zoo each year.

Potter Park Zoo is celebrating its centennial this year.

Ingham County Parks millage renewal

Voters in Ingham County will also decide the fate of a millage renewal for parks and trails.

Melissa Buzzard is the trails and parks millage coordinator for the Ingham County Parks Department. She says early projects have included infrastructure repairs and the expansion of existing trail systems, citing the Northern Tier Trail and the Hayhoe Riverwalk in Mason. "We’ve also increased river access along the Grand River," Buzzard adds, "from Burchfield Park all the way up into the city of Lansing.”

Buzzard says future projects could include a trail from MSU to Lake Lansing and a Holt to Mason trail. 

First approved by voters in 2014, renewal would extend the millage to the year 2025. It would produce nearly $4-million in the first calendar year if levied in full.

Ingham County health services millage re-authorization

On Tuesday, Ingham County residents will decide whether to re-authorize funding for a health care program for low-income residents. 

 

Ingham County is seeking a 0.63 mill increase to fund the health safety net that serves uninsured residents who are ineligible for Medicaid. 

 

The program provides basic care and mental health services. 

 

The Ingham County Board of Commissioners set the proposed increase.

 

Chairperson Bryan Crenshaw says he’s hopeful the millage will pass, but he thinks the vote might be close.

 

“But I do think that people see the need,” Crenshaw says.  “It’s not a want; it is definitely a need because we have a high number of individuals that require mental health care, and we’ve been providing that safety net for them for many years.”

 

If approved, the four-year millage would raise nearly $5 million in its first year.  It was last renewed in 2015. 

 

Ingham County special education fund restoration millage

 

Also on Tuesday, mid-Michigan voters will decide whether to restore a special education millage to the amount for which it was first approved more than 30 years ago. 

 

Back in 1988, taxpayers approved a special education millage set at 4.75 mills. 

 

But because property values have risen faster than inflation, Michigan law rolls back the tax levy to the rate of inflation. 

 

That means local schools are collecting less revenue than what they’re authorized.

 

Ingham Intermediate School District superintendent Jason Mellema says the ISD is seeking a nearly one-quarter mill increase over 20 years.

 

“This money is going to go into programs and services at the local level that help students with special needs,” Mellema explains.  “Additionally, it’s going to help with some improvements in some facilities here for students with special needs on the ISD campus.”

 

Mellema adds while the district has been a good steward of public funds, it’s time for special ed to get its due.

 

“The economy is at a relevant spot,” he says.  “The lift supports any students with special needs throughout all of our service area, and we believe it’s the right time in general to work as partners.”

 

If the millage is approved, the Ingham ISD would collect more than $2 million in its first year. 

 

Mellema says the average Ingham County homeowner would see an annual tax increase of a little over $15.

 

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