Ballot millages fund seniors, road projects

ONTONAGON — County voters can expect to see two millage proposals on the August primary ballot after the County Board on Tuesday unanimously approved language for referendums to renew millages for the Commission on Aging and road maintenance.

The Commission on Aging millage has been consistently approved since 1994 and raises funding to provide services to area seniors through the county’s Commission on Aging.

The funding allows many senior citizens to remain living in their own homes, said a commission official.

“Our main purpose or our mission is to help seniors of the county with simple services so they can remain in their home as long as possible,” said Program Director Joan Harris. “The services we provide help keep their home clean and safe. It helps give caregivers a break.”

Programs include in-home aid, personal care, transportation and a few socializing locations for elders to get out.

The millage funds help the commission get through the year after grant funds have been used.

The millage of 50 cents per $1,000 of taxable value would be renewed for four years, from 2019-22. Typically it raises about $120,000 each year.

The county road millage is even older, established in the 1930s and has never failed, said County Road Commission Engineer Michael Maloney.

Funds raised go to the County Road Commission and the village of Ontonagon for snow removal and construction.

The millage of $5 per $1,000 taxable value would be for a period of 10 years. The millage typically raises around $1.1 million per year for the commission.

The road millage funds raised from property within the village goes for snow removal and construction within the village, Maloney explained.

For county projects, the funds help offset work requested by the townships. The townships themselves pay half the cost of road projects. At this point many of the townships are looking at paving projects, Maloney said.

Additionally, the commission also uses the funds to plow about 2,000 driveways in the county, he said.

“I think people appreciate the service we do,” he said.

The millage is an important part of making everything run, he said. If it were to fail, driveways would no longer be plowed, seasonal employees could not be hired, and township project funding would need to be reworked.