Ontonagon County voters reject duo of pension millage proposals

The two mills, a village-level and a county-level respectively, would have covered the Village’s MERS pension obligation
Ontonagon County voted against a set of millage proposals to handle the MERS pension obligation...
Ontonagon County voted against a set of millage proposals to handle the MERS pension obligation stemming from the sale of the Ontonagon Memorial Hospital in 2007.(WLUC)
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 8:08 PM EDT
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ONTONAGON, Mich. (WLUC) - Ontonagon voters cast their ballots and, according to Ontonagon Village officials, have made their views clear.

The Village asked its property owners for 20 mills over six years, which would have covered its MERS pension obligation stemming from the sale of the Ontonagon Memorial Hospital in 2007. Additionally, the County asked property owners for two mills over six years for the same purpose.

According to Ontonagon village officials, the results that came in this morning revealed a decisive rejection of both proposals.

“It is disappointing,” said Ontonagon Village Manager Willie DuPont. “Although trying to pass any kind of tax is a long shot. The other part is that we needed a lot of votes out of the township. We needed the township to really push for it, and that didn’t happen, so that’s how it goes.”

The village-level millage was defeated, with 147 for and 348 against. And while the majority of the township did vote in favor of the county-wide millage, with 508 for and 363 against, the rest of the county did not agree.

“It was defeated by a 2-to-1 margin county-wide,” said Ontonagon Township Deputy Clerk Bill Chabot.

Out of 2290 total voters in the county elections, 2228 voted on the county millage proposal. Only 223 people outside the township voted in favor of it.

DuPont says he believes this is because of a spread of false information.

“I think a lot of the issue of our millage not passing stems from misinformation that’s all over the internet, word-of-mouth, and flyers people produced,” continued DuPont. “A lot of it just wasn’t factual, and I don’t mind that people don’t agree with what we’re trying to do, but I really don’t like people lying about the information.”

DuPont says the village plans to continue forward with other ways to handle the payments but knows that a permanent solution has to be found.

“Right now we’re not in bad shape,” added DuPont. “The state is giving us 3.1 million, we’re also going to be receiving some grant funds, so that helps. But I do fear we’re going to be in a similar boat down the road. It’s just a matter of ‘when’, rather than ‘if.’”

TV6 will continue to cover this situation as it develops. For more information, click here.

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