Dickinson senior center allocations revised

IRON MOUNTAIN — Millage distributions for Dickinson County senior centers have been revised, eliminating a cut of nearly $10,000 for the Norway center next year.

The revised allocations were approved by the governing board of the Dickinson-Iron Community Services Agency on Dec. 13 and by the county board Wednesday in a unanimous vote.

The county board, in a 3-2 decision Nov. 12, had accepted a distribution plan for the Dickinson centers that was drafted by the executive committee of DICSA’s governing board. Norway was the only center to have funds cut, drawing protests from County Commissioner John Degenaer Jr.

The governing board later decided to refer the issue back to the DICSA director and the respective senior meal sites to recommend “a different formula,” Commissioner Barbara Kramer said. The new proposal was drafted Dec. 10 when DICSA Executive Director Kristin Sommerfeld met with representatives of the senior centers.

The allocations are subject to millage funds collected and may be amended, Kramer said. A county-wide levy of 0.4 mills, or 40 cents per $1,000 of taxable value, is expected to generate $388,500 for senior programs next year. DICSA and the five senior centers will all receive slightly more than in 2018.

The new 2019 allocations are:

— $257,055 for DICSA itself, up from $248,940 this year. That allocation, however, is down nearly $12,000 from the $269,000 approved by the county board in November.

— $40,419 for the Crystal Lake (Dickinson County) Senior Center in Iron Mountain, up from $39,144 in 2018. The allocation approved in November was $39,645.

— $35,929 for the Norway Senior Center, up from $34,794 this year. Only $25,000 was approved in November.

— $24,165 each for the Breen Senior Center in Kingsford and the Sagola Senior Center, up from $23,400 each in 2018. The figure approved in November was $23,901 each.

— $6,767 for the Felch Senior Center, up from $6,552 in 2018 but down from the $7,053 approved in November.

Degenaer and Kramer had voted against the November distribution plan, while Wender and commissioners Joe Stevens and Ann Martin were in favor.

The Norway center, which separated from DICSA’s noon meal program in 2016, serves congregate meals but relies on DICSA for home-delivered meals as well as other senior programs.

Voters in the city of Norway, Norway Township and Waucedah Township approved a new millage for the Norway center in August. That levy of 0.5 mills, or 50 cents per $1,000 of taxable value, won’t take effect until the end of 2019, generating nearly $80,000 for the 2020 budget year. Norway area taxpayers also pay the county-wide senior levy of 0.4 mills.

The Norway center had requested $88,000 from the county millage for 2019.

In other action Wednesday, the county board:

— Approved the 2019 county general fund budget, which includes no increase in the county’s operating millage of 6.1403 mills, or $6.14 per $1,000 of taxable value. The vote was 4-1, with Degenaer opposed because of the lack of support for 4-H youth programs. Even unsupported, Dickinson County had 487 youth involved this year in 4-H and other youth enrichment programs, according to Michigan State University-Extension officials. Degenaer said the county should consider a $20,000 contribution. Total general fund spending is $9.34 million, an increase of 0.2 percent.

— Heard Kramer report the Lake Antoine Park Partners is the recipient of a $40,000 grant from The Toro Foundation for improvements at Lake Antoine’s swimming beach. Controller Brian Bousley, however, said the county was denied a Michigan Recreation Passport grant to replace the park’s boat launch. The county will apply this year for engineering work only, he said.

— Learned from Bousley that an online reservation system for Lake Antoine Park camp sites should be in place by March 1, but no reservations will be available until then.

— Authorized hiring a temporary full-time district court employee, with the position to end once the current employee is able to return to work.

— Approved a request from the local chapter of the Marine Corps League to design and display a monument recognizing Gold Star Families, or those with a member who has died serving in the U.S. armed forces. The board will approve a final design at a later date.

— Declined an invitation to join the Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Regional Commission in 2019 at a fee of $9,000. Commissioners said they’d prefer to contract for CUPPAD’s services on an as-needed basis.

— Appointed Patrick D. Smith, a county resident and former Florence County, Wis., veterans service officer, to serve a four-year term on the Veterans Affairs Board, which helps oversee the Dickinson County’s veterans office.

— Heard Gerald McCole of Channing claim the senior millage allocation to the Iron Mountain senior meal site is turned over to “a social club,” which he believes is improper. McCole said there is no such entity as the Crystal Lake Senior Center, which is named as a recipient in the county’s allocation list. The center is described otherwise in budget documents and county officials apparently view his complaint as an argument over semantics.

— Scheduled its annual reorganizational meeting for 11 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2, in the conference room of the correctional center. Kevin Pirlot of Iron Mountain, the newly elected commissioner in District 2, will be seated at that session.

— Presented a gift of flowers to Commissioner Martin, who has filled the District 2 seat the past 14 years. Wender said she is “one of the best commissioners I’ve served with” while Stevens praised her dedication and tenacity. Martin thanked the district’s voters and said it has been “deeply satisfying to be a part of democracy in action.” The audience joined the board to stand and applaud Martin’s service.