HOUGHTON - The Houghton County Board of Commissioners voted not to undo an automatic rollback of property millage rates at its monthly meeting Tuesday.
The rollback was triggered by increased taxable value; by state law, the number of mills the county levied is rolled back to compensate unless the board votes to override the rollback. The county's taxable value went up to almost $16.3 million this year, an increase of 2.2 percent.
Passing the millage, which is 0.0899 mills higher than the rate it is at without the vote, would have generated an additional $69,429 for the county.
Even without the Headlee rollback, the county will still receive an additional $80,000 over last year's property tax revenues, said Equalization Director John Partanen.
At the public hearing, Commissioners Scott Ala and Tim Palosaari said they would not support what they considered a tax increase.
"You can look at it how you want, but you're increasing taxes," Ala said. "The value goes up, you pay more taxes. It might not be the millage going up, but if you raise the value, you pay more."
However, Commissioner Dennis Barrette, with Jenich concurring, said the benefit to the county outweighed the $2-per-year charge for the average Houghton County landowner.
"I think we're finally getting to the point where we're out of the hole and we can do things we weren't able to do in the past," Barrette said. "I'd hate to see that turn around and go the other way."
With Commissioner Anton Pintar not at the meeting, Barrette predicted a stalemate, instead motioning to approve the lowered millage rate.
"Mr. Chairman, I'm thinking right now, this is the last time I'm ever going to have to vote on this," said Barrette, who is not running for re-election this fall. "Even though I feel that we could use the increase, I know that if I make a motion for implementing it, we're going to have a tie."
In other action, the board:
approved a resolution imposing the summer property tax levy of the total allocated tax.
approved a proposed policy for access to public records.
approved the final pay estimate for the Houghton County Transfer Station.
Chairman Ed Jenich said 1,223 tons of material had been brought in in May, 400 tons more than April and double the amount of March.
"I know that we have some major construction items coming in over the next couple months, so that should give us an increase, too," he said. "That's fantastic, and I understand everything's going well, and they like the facility, so we hope that more will like it and more will come."
heard from Barrette that the Houghton County Memorial Airport received no write-ups in the annual Federal Aviation Administration inspection, the first time since at least 1988. Airport Manager Dennis Hext added the airport also aced a surprise Department of Environmental Quality inspection of their aviation fuel farm last week.
"He said he'd been doing it for 19, 20 years; it's the first time in that time that he's never written anybody up," Hext said. "Again, it goes back to the staff."
Enplanements for the airport were at 2,069 for April, up 20 percent from the same time in 2011.
approved travel requests for Friend of the Court personnel. The travel expenses put the department $180 over budget, which the board approved be taken from another line item in the FOC's budget.