LMC board to put millage on November ballot

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP — Lake Michigan College is seeking its first property tax to fund capital projects in the institution’s history.

In a special meeting Tuesday, LMC’s Board of Trustees unanimously agreed to place a 0.48-mill request on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The 10-year levy would support major repairs, renovations and construction. Residents with a home valued at $100,000 would pay about $24 a year.

“I recognize it always difficult to ask taxpayers for money, but we have some 1960s facilities and a fiduciary responsibility to update them,” Trustee Michael Lindley said during Tuesday’s meeting.

LMC district taxpayers pay 1.7916 mills for operations.

Mike Cook, a member of LMC’s Citizen Task Force, presented a report to the board to show its support of the millage increase. The task force has 35 members comprised of business, civic and industry leaders throughout LMC’s district.

Among the types of projects Cook said the task force supported include student support service areas, modernized classrooms on all campuses, safety and security and any improvements to increase energy efficiency.

“The Citizen Task Force recommends that the college’s proposed use of the proceeds be restricted to capital expenditures,” Cook said. “We felt those were all responsible and important uses of the taxpayers’ dollars.”

Cook said the task force recommended the board appoint a Citizen Oversight Committee, to ensure the capital millage finds are used as intended.

LMC’s efforts in attaining the millage began in late 2015 and continued throughout this year. After completing a needs assessment, the Benton Township-based community college recruited its Citizen Task Force.

The board scheduled its special meeting after various newsletters and pamphlets were mailed to voters, a scientific phone poll was taken and community presentations were held. The deadline to place a millage proposal on the November ballot is Aug. 16.

Trustee Judy Truesdell was among those on the board to speak prior to the vote.

“We have to protect our assets,” Truesdell said. “To not do that is to not show our responsibility as an institution. I am in support of this millage.”

Stephen Small said he hopes if the millage passes in November, then the college might be able to raise enough revenue to not need to raise in tuition for the length of the 10-year levy.

LMC’s millage request comes a few months after the board voted to terminate Jennifer Spielvogel’s contract as college president.

Spielvogel’s battle with LMC came to a head at a just cause hearing in May, where she was accused of creating a hostile work environment, incurring more than $20,000 in unauthorized costs charged to the college and for violating several other policies.

In the wake of Spielvogel’s firing, LMC launched its second national search in July for its next president. Former president Bob Harrison, who retired in December 2015, was asked by the board to return until LMC chooses a successor.

Those who wish to learn more about the proposed levy can visit www. lakemichigancollege.edu.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on July 31, 2016)

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