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Voters decide millages, referendum next week

This map provided by the Sanilac County Road Commission shows roads worked on over the last five years. HMA stands for Hot Mix Asphalt.

This map provided by the Sanilac County Road Commission shows roads worked on over the last five years. HMA stands for Hot Mix Asphalt.

Sanilac County voters will decide countywide and local proposals when they head to the polls for the Presidential Primary on Feb. 27, or cast ballots during early voting through Feb. 25.

Renewals of countywide millages are on the ballot for roads, medical control authority, libraries and recycling.

In addition, voters in the Peck School District will decide a sinking fund millage, voters in the Brown City Library District will decide a millage proposal, and in Custer Township there’s a referendum on the solar zoning ordinance amendment.

On election day, Feb. 27, voting polls will be open at local locations from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Early voting is also available at the countywide polling site in the Sanilac County Emergency Operations building at 95 Dawson St., Sandusky. Early voting hours are Wednesday, Feb. 21, 12-8 p.m.; Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 22-24, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 25, 12-8 p.m.


Recycling millage

The renewal of .15 mills is for four years, 2024-2027, to support county recycling activities and household hazardous waste collection. If approved, the millage would raise an estimated $279,406 the first year.

The county operates a recycling facility in the Sandusky industrial park.

“The recycling millage in our county is used to operate the facility for the residents of our county,” said Nathan Roskey, Sanilac County Administrator. “It helps cover not only the costs to staff the facility but also the upkeep and maintenance of the facility, including the grounds, the equipment and the buildings.

“The household hazardous waste event that the county puts on each year is also funded through the millage. This has been a popular event each year as it allows residents to get rid of their hazardous materials as well as scrap tires.”

Roskey added, “Our (recycling) facility is somewhat unique in comparison to other counties, because we do operate a 24/7 drop site. I believe this greatly benefits residents, because they can take their materials to the facility at their convenience. We also have drop off bins located throughout the county for residents to utilize if they find that more convenient then coming to the recycling center.”

Road millage

The county primary road millage is a renewal of two mills that was originally approved in 1996. The six-year proposal would run from 2024-2029 and raise an estimated $3,725,418 the first year for the maintenance of primary roads and major and local streets in Sanilac County.

“We currently receive approximately 2.9 million dollars from the road millage, $800,000 from federal funding and have been able to add $800,000 from our gas and weight tax funding that comes from the State of Michigan,” said Robb Falls, managing director of the Sanilac County Road Commission.

“The map that is shown depicts the roads we have worked on over the last five years. Sanilac County has 363 miles of primary roads and we need to do maintenance (chip seal, paving, crack fill, etc.) every 7 to 12 years to keep a satisfactory road to drive on. That equates to 40 miles of road work every year. Last year we did just over 41 miles of road work. Depending on the treatment, some years will be more or less.

“The Sanilac County Road Commission would like to thank the voters of Sanilac County for their continual support.”

Med Control millage

The renewal of the Sanilac County Medical Control Emergency Services Millage is for two-tenths of a mill for four years, 2024-2027. The millage would raise an estimated $372,542 the first year. Revenue is used for the coordination of ambulance services in the county, advanced training of emergency medical personnel, physician supervision and ambulance life support equipment under the direction of the Sanilac Medical Control Board.

“The Sanilac Medical Control Authority (SMCA) is responsible for the oversight of both the transporting and non-transporting EMS agencies in our county,” said Lea Lentz, executive director of the Medical Control Authority. “Some of the SMCA responsibilities include providing EMS with pre-hospital protocols, quality assurance, initial education, continuing education and specialty classes for EMS providers.”

Lentz said, “Our organization takes community safety seriously. Over the years, we have facilitated Stop the Bleed training and provided through a Region 3 grant, Stop the Bleed kits and cabinets to every school in our county.

“We often work together with the Sanilac County Sheriff’s Office. Some things we have done together are active shooter drills at many of our schools, we worked together to purchase over 80 automated external defibrillators that were placed in all Sanilac County Sheriff’s officers’ vehicles, fire departments and first responder units. We rehomed over 50 LifePak AEDs to local churches, schools, factories and township offices. We offer free of charge CPR, AED & Stop the Bleed training to our schools, daycares, police officers, fire departments, EMS and the community.”

Library millage

The proposed renewal of two mills would provide funds for all public libraries serving Sanilac County. The four-year levy for the years 2024-2027 would raise an estimated $372,542 the first year

“The money collected covers our materials – both book and the popular E-Book, E-Audiobook and E-Magazine content,” said the co-directors of Sandusky District Library, Nicole Markel and Jessica Rivett. “This allows us to have current titles for users of all ages.

“The millage is key to helping us provide the best services to our community.”

“The millage funds our staff and books, our two most essential parts of being a library,” said Jen Kisbany, director of Deckerville Public Library. “The county millage is the only millage that we have. Our other sources of funds are penal fines and state aid. All other sources- donations, services – account for a very small part of our budget.”

“The millage money is used for everything – books, magazines, e-magazines, supplies to maintain the collection, etc.,” said Larissa Schneidewind, director of Elk Township Library. “Without the millage we would be facing serious cuts.”

“It purchases all our circulation materials, office and building supplies, delivery of interlibrary loans and helps with our programming budget,” stated Beth Schumacher, director of Moore Public Library in Lexington.

“The amount (from the millage) is equivalent to Sanilac District Library’s budget for library materials -audio books, books in print, digital subscriptions, magazines, and movies,” said Beverly Dear, director of the library in Port Sanilac.

“This millage is critical to Sanilac District Library’s ability to continue providing services to our patrons. The loss of the county millage would cause significant hardship to Sanilac District Library and would result in the reduction of services that directly affect our patrons.”

“Our revenue from the county millage covers our entire materials and programming budgets,” said Marty Rheaume, director of William Aitkin Memorial Library in Croswell. “Those are our two most essential services so we really depend on it.”


Custer Township solar ordinance

Voters in Custer Township will have a referendum on the ballot for the zoning ordinance amendment for solar energy systems passed by the township board.

Township resident Daniel Light petitioned for the referendum, which gives voters an opportunity to approve or disapprove of the ordinance.

“I believe that it is vital that every citizen of Custer Township is informed of any and all changes, especially those that may impact the landscape,” Light told the News in an email. “Members of the board need to be more proactive about creating alternative and direct delivery methods for such important subjects.

“Not everyone reads the paper, listens to the radio, or has the opportunity to show up at board meetings. Which is why I feel it is so crucial that new methods be considered and implemented in the future. Each and everyone of us in Custer Township deserves to have a voice when it comes to matters that could potentially affect us all as a community.”

Doug Gorringe, the Custer Township Zoning Administrator, provided the following statement about the solar ordinance.

“Our old ordinance was drafted in 2014 and consisted of 2 pages,” said Gorringe in an email to the News. “The 7-member Custer township planning commission upon hearing that commercial solar farms were looking at sites in Custer Township decided we needed to update our solar ordinance to regulate this new technology.

“We held several meetings in drafting a new ordinance, looking at surrounding townships’ solar ordinances, state regulations and what was needed in a new ordinance. The majority of the planning commission approved this ordinance and sent it to the 5-member township board that also on a majority vote approved it.”

Gorringe said, “The majority of the members felt it was important to preserve township land for farming. The new solar ordinance is 23 pages of detailed regulations that control the placement of solar energy systems in Custer Township in 2023 and beyond.”


Brown City District Library proposal

The proposed millage for the new Brown City District Library is for 1.2 mills. The levy is four years, 2024- 2027, and would raise an estimated $120,000 the first year.

The current millage of 1 mill is for the former Brown City Library, with the tax levied on property in Brown City.

“The Brown City Library millage of 1 mill for Brown City residents expires at the end of this year,” said Chuck Bennett, city manager of Brown City.

“Now the Brown City Library is the District Library and the millage will reflect that. The area getting taxed would mirror Brown City Schools minus Lapeer County. This increases the funding that the library can get.”

Bennett explained, “Under the 1 mill for Brown City residents, the library received approximately $25,000 in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2023. The library also gets approximately $20,000 a year in tax from the county library millage.

That is combined at $45,000. Expenses came in at approximately $82,000.”

“If the 1.2 mill proposal goes through,” said Bennett, “it is estimated total income from county and district millages would be $120,000 a year.”

“The goal is to increase hours of operation for the community if the millage goes through,” said Bennett. “Currently outside of special programs the library is open 32 hours a week.

“The library now being in the old Tri County Bank has tripled in size and can offer many more activities for patrons. The library has also filed for grants to rehab the very large basement, install an elevator and make this a resource for the community.

“The increased funds will help with building costs, hours of operation, and increased programming.”


Peck School District proposal

Peck Community Schools is asking for a sinking fund millage of 1.5 mills for 10 years, 2024-2033. The purpose of the sinking fund includes the purchase of real estate, construction and repair of school buildings, security improvements, acquisition or upgrading of technology, purchase of student transportation vehicles, purchase of trucks and vans to carry parts and personnel to maintain buildings, and all other purposes authorized by law.

The millage would generate an estimated $132,955 the first year.

“Our current sinking fund is expiring and we opted not to renew it because the language for that millage when it passed restricted the use of the funds,” said Superintendent Bill Kerr. “Since then, the legislature has approved new funding uses, especially critical to our district were transportation and technology maintenance. We have to be careful not to use terms like ‘renewal’ or ‘no-increase’ according to our lawyers, because this is a completely new proposal.

“However, the rate of the expiring fund is 1.5 mills. That is the same rate we will be asking for on this ballot, just with the new expanded language/usage.”