Dickinson library millage nudged lower

IRON MOUNTAIN — Dickinson County Library’s annual property tax levy will be reduced by 0.05 mills in the next budget year, a reduction of 5.6 percent.

Library trustees decided to cut the millage after deciding the fund balance was sufficient to cushion against unexpected expenses, the county board was told Monday.

In August, voters approved a renewal of 0.9 mills, or 90 cents per $1,000 of taxable value, through 2024 for the continued operation and maintenance of the library. But only 0.85 mills will be levied for 2019, said Audrey Smith, library board treasurer.

“I applaud them for that,” said Commissioner Ann Martin, a liaison to the library board.

The reduction will trim the library’s budget by an estimated $44,500. Total property tax revenues will come in at about $751,500. For a home with a market value of $90,000, the tax savings will be about $2.25.

The library system includes the main location at 401 Iron Mountain St. in downtown Iron Mountain, plus the Solomonson branch at 620 Section St. in Norway and the North Dickinson branch in the North Dickinson County School District building in Felch Township.

Megan Buck, library director, said the system strives to balance traditional, historical, entertaining and modern library services. Although utilization is steady, less than half of Dickinson County residents now have a library card, which is free.

The reading room at the main branch has been renovated after a successful $20,000 crowdfunding campaign and a matching grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s Public Spaces Community Places program. The library itself budgeted $175,000.

Bill Cummings, library board chairman, encouraged the county board and the public to check out the improvements, noting the library has long relied on its general revenues rather than seeking extra millages. “We have been very careful with our levies, always have been,” he said.

Finishing touches on the reading room project should be completed in time for an open house set for 6 p.m. Oct. 9, Cummings added.

Dickinson County’s library may be “the best one in the state,” Commissioner Joe Stevens offered.

In other action, the county board:

— Heard Commissioner John Degenaer Jr. report numbers aren’t yet final for the county fair, but it appears they were up. Degenaer said the county’s share of revenues from the Skerbeck Carnival soared to $57,000, which was the best ever; the previous high was $41,000. The annual five-day fair in Norway takes place over the Labor Day weekend. Sheriff Scott Rutter said it went very well, with only a few minor incidents.

— Received good reviews from Saturday’s Crafty Flea Market at Lake Antoine Park, a cooperative fundraiser for Lake Antoine Park Partners and The Daily News’ Newspapers in Education program. It “exceeded all expectations,” Stevens said. Commissioner Barbara Kramer counted 50 vendors, many of them ready to return for next year’s Sept. 7 event. Attendance surpassed 1,300.

— Approved a cooperative service agreement between Ford Airport and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to perform a wildlife hazard assessment at Ford Airport. The county’s 10 percent obligation is $4,100.

— Will continue to review the cost for proposed sewer and water service at two new hangars planned at Ford Airport. A bid of $454,900 has been accepted from Superior Steel of Iron Mountain to build a hangar that will be leased to M.J. Electric. That cost excludes sewer and water extensions. A second hangar is planned for CSA Air, Controller Brian Bousley said.