Council reverses policy

MANISTIQUE – During its regular meeting Monday night the Manistique City Council reversed a three-year-old policy that allowed residents to avoid paying flat fees on water because it interfered with Department of Rural Development loan requirements.

In 2010 the city adopted a policy that allowed residents to pay a $100 fee to have their water meters removed and end city water service with the option of having the meter reinstalled at a later date. During the time the meter was removed, residents were not required to pay the flat rate service fee.

While the policy allowed them to avoid the flat fee, the cost of reinstalling the meter cost was $150 for residents. This deterred many “snow birds” and others from taking advantage of the policy because it was not cost effective.

“We had probably less than a dozen customers that had taken advantage of that,” said Manistique City Manager Sheila Aldrich.

Despite few residents taking advantage of the policy, the city was notified that the policy needed to be reversed because it violated the terms of loans through the Department of Rural Development.

“The flat fee is what pays our fixed expenses. It’s what makes our payments on the loan,” said Aldrich.

The city has a history of using Department of Rural Development loans for projects related to the city’s sewer and water infrastructure.

“Anything we do with the water and sewer systems is partly loans and partly grants,” said Aldrich adding the city has used loans through the Department of Rural Development since the 1970s.

Also during the meeting, the council approved a tax abatement for FutureMark Paper Group’s Manistique Mill, formerly Manistique Papers. The 12-year abatement on personal property tax would allow the plant to install a new boiler system. The value of the new equipment indicated by FutureMark is roughly $4.5 million.

Now that the abatement was approved by the city council, the abatement request will be sent to the State Tax Commission for review.

Council members also listened to a presentation from new Interim Director of the Schoolcraft County Medical Care Facility Mike Stephenson. The facility is proposing a 1.5 mill, or $1.50 per $1,000 of taxable value, for a period of five years from Dec 1. to Nov. 30, 2018 inclusive, to provide funds for the operation and maintenance of the facility. The proposal will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot.