Council hears opposition to AxMiTax

Ballot initiative would end Michigan property taxes without specific replacement revenue


IRON MOUNTAIN — A ballot initiative to eliminate property taxes in Michigan would be an “unmitigated disaster” if approved, an opponent of the proposal told Iron Mountain City Council on Monday.

City resident and Dickinson County Commissioner Barbara Kramer offered a summary of the AxMiTax referendum as hitting low-income and fixed-income residents the hardest. It would force the state to replace lost revenue through a much higher sales tax or other regressive moves, she said.

AxMiTax, led by real estate agent and small business owner Karla Wagner of Kent County, has gained preliminary approval from the Board of State Canvassers to collect signatures to request a statewide vote. At least 446,198 signatures from Michigan voters would be needed by July 8 to make the November ballot.

While the initiative has drawn protest, Kramer said the appeal of property tax elimination may be enough to keep it alive.

“If it would get to the ballot, it would go on as a constitutional amendment,” she said.

City Manager Jordan Stanchina noted the proposal has no depth, failing to define any realistic replacement revenues for schools or a host of other institutions and services.

According to Mark Brewer, an attorney representing Michiganders for the Commonwealth, the proposal appears to eliminate at least $3 billion in funding for public education alone without replacement revenue.

On its website, AxMiTax says the elimination of property taxes would force government and schools to become fiscally responsible and “give each citizen the

ability to reevaluate how their money is being spent.”

Kramer, in a printed statement, said that by eliminating millages the proposal locally would shut down school districts and Bay College, along with the county’s senior centers and rural ambulances. It would hinder a number of other programs and services, including road maintenance, 911 and public health.

“Understand that for Michigan and our local units, agencies and service providers, passage of this amendment would be an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions,” she said.

City council members thanked Kramer for the update, acknowledging the need to inform citizens of the implications of signing the AxMiTax petition.

During an October meeting of the county board, Controller Brian Bousley pointed out that a huge increase in the Michigan sales tax would push most local retail business into Wisconsin.

In other action, the Iron Mountain council:

— Approved a change in the developer’s agreement for a residential area east of Iron Mountain’s East E Street to require a road width of 24 feet. Ridgeview Development LLC, represented by Bob Forgette and Luke Carey, envisions 22 lots accessed through a cul-de-sac that will be maintained by the city once the project is finished. The road width in the initial agreement in January was 22 feet with 2-inch gravel shoulders, which was an oversight on the city’s part, Stanchina said. In a related matter, the city will seek a survey and appraisal for the potential sale to Forgette of 7.25 acres of neighboring city property that’s needed to access further phases of the project.

— Will soon seek applicants for a sidewalk replacement program that will have labor donated by LiUNA Local 1329. The anticipated cost to the property owner is $2.50 per square foot of concrete. A minimum of 250 square feet will be eligible for replacement. More information will be available at City Hall or on the city’s Facebook page.

— Heard Mayor Dale Alessandrini report proceeds of $16,000 from last summer’s Saturday in the Park event organized by Friends of Iron Mountain City Park. A pavilion is among the future projects to be funded, he said. Also discussed was the need for a better surface in the dog park, which has been closed temporarily after getting too muddy.

— Agreed to contract with Professional Driver Services LLC of Bark River to provide commercial driver’s license training as needed for city employees at a cost of $3,380 each. The employee’s share is prorated over two years, with 1/24 of the cost forgiven for each month the employee stays.

— Placed an order to replace four Sternberg decorative light poles damaged by vehicles over the past year. Insurance reimbursements are expected from the respective drivers. The total quoted cost from CTA Lighting & Controls of Comstock Park is $15,558.

— Will list several items for auction on the Wisconsin Surplus online site, including a 2001 Cat backhoe, a 1997 Ford dump truck, a pallet of stage risers, and a number of pallets of old street signs.

Jim Anderson can be reached at 906-774-3500, ext. 226, or janderson@ironmountaindailynews.com.


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