Baraga County hears equalization report

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Baraga County Commissioners Gale Eilola, Chad Cichosz, William Kent and William Menge discuss items during Tuesday’s monthly board meeting.

L’ANSE — Property values in Baraga County were up more than $66 million over 2023, county Equalization Director Pat Osterman said in his annual report.

Osterman presented his findings to the county board at its April meeting Tuesday.

The county’s equalization value for 2024 is $507,548,579, up 1.15% from the previous year. Of that, $438,288,352 is made up of real property (up 1.16%) and $69,260,227 is personal property (up 1.12%).

The agricultural, commercial, industrial, resident and timber-cutover sectors all saw increases, as were the total real and personal property values in each township.

Slightly more properties qualify this year. While disabled veterans are still exempt from paying property tax on homesteads, the value of that property is now added to the tax roll, Osterman said.

On Osterman’s advice, the board also opted out of having a designated assessor for the county. The state removed the requirement on Friday. Former Equalization Director Lora Osterman had been appointed in 2020, as the only assessor who did not charge the county. The designated assessor serves as a standby in case the assessor in place fails a review from the state, Pat Osterman said.

In other action, the board:

• Approved a $9,390 bid for LED lighting for the Baraga County Courthouse and grounds from TC Electric. The money will come from the county’s American Rescue Plan Act funds.

• Approved a resolution opposing the U.S. Postal Service’s plan to downsize the processing and distribution center in Kingsford. It would become a local processing center, with all Upper Peninsula mail instead going to Green Bay. Dickinson County is considering suing the USPS over the move.

“If this thing goes through — which probably it’s already in the works — but mail that goes to Iron Mountain from here stays there overnight, goes the following day to Green Bay,” Board Chair Gale Eilola said. “So that adds another extra day or two to our mail service delivery.”

• Clarified the funding for the purchase of body cameras for the Baraga County Sheriff’s Office. The county will pay $3,596 annually for five years from federal money it receives through the Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency Fund.

• Approved a resolution authorizing Board Chair Gale Eilola for land acquisition at the North Sturgeon River Recreation Area. The county received a grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.


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