5/8/2013 12:02:00 AM Council approves small tax hike
Jessica Evans News Manager
Harbor Springs City Council hosted a public hearing on Monday, May 6 concerning a potential millage tax rate increase. The council approved and adopted the slightly higher 2013 millage rate after opening the floor for comments. The current 5.7884 mills was increased to 5.7993 mills, an increase of approximately one one-hundredth of a mill.
"This is something we do every year, based on the revenue projected," said city manager Tom Richards. "The only change this year is that this amount is such a small amount," he added.
The rate adjustment is $2,500, which will ensure that anticipated expenses budgeted for 2013 are met. An increase of approximately $1.09 for each $100,000 of taxable property value is what the annual taxpayer cost will be for this millage rate.
During the rest of Council's regularly scheduled meeting, much of the agenda revolved around community organizations and park projects, including a request from the Harbor Springs Chamber of Commerce to potentially relocate the Chamber's administrative offices from Blackbird Museum to Ford Park.
The Ford Park building, located on Bay Street, was previously used by the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society for storage and exhibits and is currently vacant. The Ford Park building would provide more office space and more room for a tourist information center compared to the current Chamber location.
This is something that has been discussed now for quite some time, said Tom Trautman, Chamber board president.
"We think this would be a perfect fit for the Chamber since it's right on the water," Trautman said. "We would also have public bathrooms available year-round, and there's always a need for this."
Some structural improvements would need to be made to the building to make it available for year-round use. New doors and windows would likely be put in place, along with heating and air conditioning units. Some walls would likely be removed and replaced, and a new roof might also end up on the to-do list.
Funding for the project could potentially come in the form of a grant available through the Little Traverse Band of Odawa Indians for governmental needs in local communities. The Chamber asked for City Council's consideration in applying for the grant money, which could range from $20,000 to $50,000, according to city manager Tom Richards. The estimated cost of remodeling the building is just over $64,000.
Council members appeared generally in favor of the project, and also in favor of applying for the grant funds.
"This is the ideal use for that building," said mayor Al Dika. "I think we should move forward on this and apply for the grant money."
Mayor pro tem Pringle Pfeifer agreed.
"I think it's a good idea," she said. "It seems like a wonderful use of the building, and I think this is very positive, overall."
Council agreed to support the much-loved tradition of Street Musique downtown by approving a funding request by Street Musique committee co-chairs, Mary Catherine Hannah and Rachel Smolinski for the amount of $1,000.
"It's a fantastic event and has continued to grow every year," Hannah stated. "We plan to continue with the same format as last year, and we're hoping for another great season."
Council members agreed to support a proposal from the Harbor Springs High School Key Club to pursue a grant that would improve playground equipment on the corner of Lake and Hoyt Streets. The Key Club plans to enter a competition that would award $25,000 for this purpose. Council encouraged the Key Club to go forward with entering the competition.
Council also considered a proposal by resident Carrie Wiggins to allow for an exercise fitness program that would take place on city property (namely city parks). Wiggins stated that for a small fee, she would provide the program to those interested.
"This is just another step in contributing to our vibrant community," Wiggins stated. "This could act as an intergenerational activity, something that grandmothers and their grandchildren could come down and enjoy together."
One concern of Council members regarding this is that it could potentially set a precedent with other like-minded individuals who might be interested in holding classes or programs on city property. The council agreed to allow Wiggins to go forward with holding the fitness program on city property this summer, see how the program goes, and revisit the issue at a later date.