IM school officer millage to go on ballot

IRON MOUNTAIN — A millage to fund a police officer in Iron Mountain Public Schools will go to city voters Nov. 5 under ballot language approved by the city council Monday.

The five-year proposal calls for an annual levy up to 0.55 mills, or 55 cents per per $1,000 of taxable value. The city hasn’t had a school liaison officer since voters in November 2014 rejected a similar millage. On a home worth $90,000, with a taxable value of $45,000, a tax of 0.55 mills amounts to $24.75 a year.

“It’s something we really need in the schools,” Mayor Dale Alessandrini said. “Hopefully residents will approve it this time.”

The city tried to restore funding last year through a similar proposal, but the measure never made it to voters. The proposal sought a five-year levy beginning in 2018, but it should have been 2019, so was disqualified from the ballot.

In 2014, a request for a five-year levy of 0.5 mills, or 50 cents per $1,000 of taxable value, was denied with 1,125 no votes to 986 yes.

Previously, the city had levied up to 0.25 mills, or 25 cents per $1,000 of taxable value, sharing costs with the school district. But after having an officer in place for 12 years, the school decided it could no longer split the bill.

“The school and the city have suffered since (the position) went away,” said Ed Mattson, director of police and fire services. “We don’t have the relationship (with students) that we used to.”

The new proposal would raise about $131,000 in 2020 if the full amount is levied. Although the request is for 0.55 mills, the city needs 0.45 mills to fund the estimated $105,000 position and could choose to levy only that amount, said Jordan Stanchina, city manager.

The millage request is higher than what’s currently needed because the city doesn’t know what the necessary levy will be five years from now, he explained.

Council member Bill Revord encouraged cooperation with the school district to appeal to voters. “To have somebody dedicated to that (position) is a huge plus to the city,” he said.

In other action, the council:

— Will continue to review emergency rules released earlier this month by Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency laying out requirements for businesses that plan to sell recreational marijuana. The city for the next month will accept applications for medical marijuana facilities but has taken no action on recreational sales. The state agency, meanwhile, plans to start taking business applications for recreational marijuana Nov. 1. “There are questions and we still need more information,” Stanchina said.

— Reviewed an urban forestry plan prepared by Dickinson Conservation District forester Lawrence Sobson in cooperation with the Iron Mountain Tree Board. A goal for 2020 is a tree planting program on 11 blocks of West A Street from downtown to City Park, assisted by a potential grant from American Transmission Co. Preferred tree species would include thornless honeylocust; Kentucky coffeetree; white, bur and swamp white oak; ginkgo (males); Dutch elm disease-resistant elm; musclewood; serviceberry and hybrid serviceberry; and chokecherry.

— Renewed a contract for assessing services with Patti Roell’s Certified Assessing LLC. The three-year agreement starts July 21 and will pay $78,600 the first year, which is an increase of $7,000 from the expiring contract. The second year is $81,600 and the third is $84,600. No benefits are paid. “The request is reasonable and in line with the going rate for a Level III assessor,” Stanchina said.

— Approved 2 percent pay increases for administrative employees, along with step increases where applicable. This is similar to the union contract increases and will be retroactive to July 1, Stanchina noted. The new salaries are $89,159 for Stanchina; $80,196 for Mattson; $67,347 for Public Works Supervisor Scott Thomas; $59,633 for Chief Finance Officer Heather Lieburn; and $56,098 for Clerk-Treasurer Isaac Micheau. Under an earlier action, Micheau is paid an additional $3,500 for partial duties of the zoning and code administrator, a position that is vacant. Also approved were 2 percent wage increases for two permanent part-time positions in the police department, rising to $15.17 per hour; and a 2 percent increase in the part-time firefighter wage schedule.

— Presented a resolution of appreciation to former council member Amanda List, who resigned earlier this year after serving nearly 5 1/2 years.

— Agreed to seek bids for a new half-ton pickup truck for public works. The oldest vehicle in the fleet is a 1996 and $23,000 is budgeted for the purchase.

— Reported new security cameras will be installed soon at City Hall, along with the public works and police and fire buildings. A grant of $3,000 from the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority will cover part of the estimated $8,000 cost.

— Authorized Stanchina to obtain quotes for actuarial studies of the city’s retirement benefit obligations.

— Adopted a local pavement warranty program, as prepared by the Michigan Department of Transportation. This program will likely be required by MDOT to be eligible for local road agency funding, Stanchina said.

— Learned the east side tennis courts and north side pickle ball courts are scheduled for painting the week of July 22.

— Authorized annual dues of $4,572 to the Michigan Municipal League.