Bay College holds town hall to discuss upcoming millage proposal

ESCANABA, Mich. (WLUC)- Delta County voters were invited to a town hall at Bay College on Tuesday evening to learn more about the upcoming millage increase proposal, as state funding to support the community college has decreased in recent years.

On November 5, 2019, county residents will be asked to vote on an operating millage for Bay College to help with infrastructure issues.

"We need to be able to replace all of our mechanical infrastructure, from one end of the building to the other, it's all over 50 years old,” said Dr. Laura Coleman, Bay College President.

Coleman says this equipment is not efficient and while repairs have been made over the years, it is now hard to find replacement parts.

"We know that if we don't get proactive that the broilers are going to break down when it's -35 degrees outside and then it will cost us twice as much to get it fixed, as if we'd just went ahead and got it done proactively,” said Coleman.

According to Coleman, the budget short-falls are caused by limited increases in state funding.

State Aid has decreased from 52% of the community college's budget in 2001 to 35% in 2018.

"The millage is 0.7 operational millage that we are asking for, and then we are asking for a Headlee Restoration, which is 0.1974,” said Coleman.

The estimated cost of the millage is $2.97 per month for homeowners with an $80,000 home and $7.44 per month for homeowners with a $200,000 home.

Bay College recently brought on an Athletics Department and some residents are concerned that is what is costing them money.

"The answer to that is our athletic program is actually adding to our bottom line, they are not costing us out of our bottom line,” said Coleman.

Some county voters, opposed to another tax increase, have been spreading the word on Facebook and posting "Vote No" signs in their yards.

Joseph Mold, Executive Director of Online Learning, emphasized the impact Bay College has on the community.

"Bay College offers a lot great programs to our community, the library is free and open to the public anyone can come and use our library, our WiFi is free and open to the public,” said Mold.

Residents will vote on the millage on November 5, 2019.

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