Committee recommends millage renewal

ALPENA — It appears voters in Alpena County are going to have an opportunity to renew the youth and recreation millage for a second time in August.

If the ballot language is approved by the board of commissioners, the half mill will continue for another four years and generate $455,000 to be used for recreational needs in the county. The original millage was passed in 2010 and renewed in 2014.

According to committee Chairman Tony Suszek, the youth and recreation committee voted 6-0 at its meeting Feb. 1 to seek a renewal. He said the committee believes the millage has had a large impact on all of the communities in the county, as well as dozens of groups, organizations and programs that have been able to utilize portions of the funding.

“In my opinion this has touched everyone in the county in one way or another and has been fantastic for helping to upgrade activities,” Suszek said. “It has had a major impact for a little amount of money. Everything I’ve heard about it has been positive.”

The committee decided to have the proposal on the ballot in August because it would allow a2019 llocation decisions to be made before the end of this year. Suszek said applications for funding in 2019 are available now and are due no later than May 1. All grants and funding are contingent upon the passage of a millage in August.

“We really need to have it in August in order for the commissioners to get the projects in the 2019 budget,” he said. “We wouldn’t be able to get the allocations if we did it in November, I don’t believe.”

Suszek said each year there are more funding requests than money to go around. He said the committee is always fair when distributing funds and gets the taxpayers the biggest bang for their buck. He said there still are quality projects that need funding and other things, such as Plaza Pool and Michigan State Univeristy Extension, that likely would need to close if the millage funding were to end.

“The number of applications that we are receiving are not going down and there is still a lot of need to enhance or build these projects,” he said. “This millage has been very successful and has made a lot of things possible throughout the county, but there is still a lot more that can be done.”

Suszek said he expects the board of commissioners to vote on the ballot language at its meeting this month.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.