Housing taxes still debated

ONTONAGON — The decision on giving the village-owned Housing Commission a break on taxes has become an issue at Village Council meetings for the past four months.

Once again it was brought up at Monday night’s meeting, and once again it was tabled to the next meeting. However, the end might be coming into sight on this issue after a mistake was noticed on the Jan. 23 meeting minutes.

Sue Lockhart of the commission said during public comment that the minutes of the last meeting stated that a decision to not grant a waiver or a reduction in the payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) did not take place.

“The council did not vote on this issue, but tabled the decision,” she said. “This needs to be corrected in the minutes.”

The council agreed that no decision had been made and the minutes were amended. According to Lockhart, council member Don Chastain told her after a commission board meeting that the council did vote to not give the commission a waiver or reduction in the PILOT.

“While Chastain stated the council had already voted, I know they did not as I have attended council meetings on this issue going back to last fall,” she said. “The vote to amend the minutes proves they did not vote on the issue, but now it looks like they (Village Council) is going to make a decision.”

Council member John Hamm made a motion to reduce the tax liability to the commission at Monday night’s meeting, but when his motion failed to get support, the council said a decision will be made at the Feb 27 meeting.

The tax liability of over $8,000 goes back to 2015 and part of 2016. Council discussion, along with comments from Lockhart and Sally Jarvey, appeared to go toward reducing the tax liability by $2,000.

During public comment period resident Tom Hamilton brought up the issue regarding property ownership on Rose Island. This issue goes back to last September when a village resident wanted to sell her property on the island, but was told that the village owns a portion of that property.

“I want to see the papers that show the village owns this property,” he said. “I have records that show where when the railroad abandoned this property, the property reverted back to the landowner. While the media has not done an investigation into this, and the public has been misled on this issue, I am confident that someone from the media will do some investigation into this and the public will be informed.”