Delta County land value drops slightly

ESCANABA – Land values have decreased slightly from 2013 to 2014 in Delta County.

The Delta County Board of Commissioners were informed of the slight decline during a presentation of the county’s equalization report at its board meeting Tuesday.

JuliAnne Kolbe, acting director for the Delta County Equalization Department, said the county’s total real and personal property values for 2014 are $1,403,682,523. This is a slight .71 percent decrease from 2013 assessed values.

Kolbe said the slight decline is good given two significant legislative actions that took place this year, including a veterans exemption and the elimination of personal property for small businesses with assets of $80,000 or less.

“What this .71 percent also shows to me is that the real estate market is stagnant in Delta County and hopefully next year we’ll start seeing some more growth,” she said. “At least we’re not going down. We’re stagnant and hopefully now we can go up.”

Though values are down .71 percent from a year ago, they are down just .56 percent from five years ago, and up nearly 13 percent from 10 years ago, a gain which Kolbe said is a positive sign.

Breaking down the amounts even further, Kolbe noted the residential class makes up the largest value for the county, accounting for 69 percent of assessed values.

“It (residential class) only shows a slight decrease of .04 and a total amount value of $965,845,731,” she said.

The personal property class makes up 14 percent of assessed values and was down 5.48 percent – for a 2014 total of $197,907,244 – due to the legislative changes Kolbe mentioned.

The commercial class decreased one-half a percentage point to a value of $161,028,282, while agricultural class was up 1.7 percent – to $45,135,676.

Industrial properties also noticed an improvement in 2014 – to $33,632,791.

“This class increased by over 4 percent so that shows some good, healthy growth here in Delta County,” said Kolbe.

The developmental class decreased 1.72 percent to $127,313 since it only includes two properties in Wells Township. Kolbe explained the reason for the decrease was due to a few parcels in the city of Escanaba that were eliminated and put into the commercial class.

The board voted to approve the report and place on file.

The board also approved a county loan of $325,000 from the residual equity fund, including interest, to the Airport Board for a new regional boarding ramp at the Delta County Airport. The funding for the ramp has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and Michigan Department of Transportation from the 2015 funding year. The full lump sum principal payment will be transferred back to the residual equity fund when Airport Improvement Program funding is received by the airport.

Airport Manager Kelly Smith noted the need for the ramp came about from the annual U.P. Honor Flight program that departs from the airport.

“This year this boarding ramp that we’re going to install and hopefully have open and active by September will not help the Honor Flight Committee until we get two more pieces of equipment to go with the boarding ramp but we’re working on that,” said Smith. “The airport needs a really large tug in order to be able to push the aircraft back the way the boarding ramp is set up, but right now this boarding ramp for Delta County is a huge step for us as far as looking at customer service into our area.”

According to Smith, the installation of the ramp essentially means those who fly out of the Delta County Airport will no longer have to walk outside to board their plane. This makes them the second airport in the U.P. to have a boarding ramp.

In other business, the board:

– awarded a bid for a new snow plow at the Delta County Airport to Industrial Marketing of Gwinn in the amount of $480,000.

– approved a $208,000 bid from Richer’s Refrigeration & Air Conditioning for the installation of new rooftop units to replace old inefficient units at the Delta County Service Center.

– adopted the CDBG Housing Rehabilitation Grant 2011-2013 report, a contract with the Menominee, Delta, Schoolcraft Community Action Agency/Human Resources Authority, and several resolutions regarding the continuation of the single-family housing rehabilitation program. According to Delta County Housing Program Manager Naomi Fletcher, the county has applied for and received the CDBG grant for approximately 20 years. Twenty-two projects were completed as part of the program from 2011-2013, ranging from furnace and well repairs to complete rehabilitation. The board authorized submission of the grant application to continue the program for the 2013-15 grant cycle.

– approved a $10,500 payment to Roy Ness Contracting & Sales Inc. for the construction of a fully laminated curved wall and desk/commissioner’s meeting table at the Delta County Service Center for a new board room that will be located there.

– approved a request to amend the Solid Waste Management Plan and to activate the Solid Waste Planning Committee, as requested by Golder Associates, Inc. on behalf of the Escanaba Paper Company. Their goal is to amend the county plan to allow additional non-hazardous solid waste materials to be disposed within the Escanaba Paper Company Type III Landfill located in Wells Township.

– approved a resolution required to apply for a Michigan State Housing Development Authority grant for residential blight elimination in Delta County. According to County Treasurer Tom Sabor, Delta County will apply for the grant in conjunction with Marquette, Alger, Houghton and Gogebic counties. One tax foreclosed property in Escanaba is eligible for demolition using the grant monies should Delta County be awarded funding.

– approved a request from a landowner in Nahma Township to rezone property from Commercial 1 to Commercial 3, as a potential buyer of the property is interested in setting up a bulk propane storage tank on the parcel.

– approved an MDOT contract and resolution for aircraft rescue and firefighting training at the Delta County Airport.

– approved the adoption of a pre-employment policy, as recommended during a Committee of the Whole meeting.

– approved an amendment to Delta County Zoning Ordinance 76-2 to establish the number of members on the Zoning Board of Appeals as seven members, as recommended by the Planning Commission.

– adopted a resolution to support the Move to Amend Campaign. The resolution calls upon state and federal legislators to enact resolutions and legislation to reinstate maximum contribution allowances for campaign contributions, which previously had a maximum cap allowance for individuals and corporations.

– approved transferring $500 into the office supply line item of the Delta County Clerk’s Office to purchase a laminator for $171 and to cover supply purchases for the remainder of the budget year.

– approved the request for donation of sick leave for a sheriff’s department employee.