LAKE CITY — Missaukee County voters are being asked if they want to financially support the recycling center.
On Tuesday, county commissioners voted 5-2 to put a ballot proposal before Missaukee County voters in March 2020.
If voters approve the millage, Missaukee County property owners will pay 0.25 mills (or 25 cents per $1,000 of taxable value) to go toward funding the operation and maintenance of the county recycling program.
During an unusually well-attended county board meeting, several people spoke during public comment in favor of the proposal and the recycling center more generally.
“I’m just here, along with my wife, to support the recycling project,‘ said Craig Ardis.
Two county commissioners were less supportive of the ballot proposal.
Hubert Zuiderveen said most of the people he spoke to in his district did not support the proposal and did not even want to see it on the ballot.
“Personally I like recycling but I have to vote the way people want me to,‘ Zuiderveen said.
Commissioner Star Hughston said he doesn’t favor putting issues on the ballot that he opposes because he thinks it tells voters that he does support the proposal (Hughston voted no).
Other commissioners said it’s for the voters to decide.
The Missaukee Conservation District operates the recycling center.
For the last decade, the conservation district has received a large grant from the USDA that mostly paid for the recycling center’s annual operating costs.
But in Fiscal Year 2020, the USDA did not give the grant to the Missaukee Conservation District.
For the time being, the recycling center is being funded through the center’s reserve monies, which are expected to run out in a year.
This year’s $94,442 operating budget is “bare bones‘ and includes no funding for capital improvements at the facility and not enough funding for adequate maintenance of the operating equipment,‘ the recycling center’s manager wrote in a memo to county commissioners.
To keep the recycling center open in the future, the center needs another source of revenue, according to Sherry Blaszak, the recycling center manager.
“While plans are underway to submit a USDA grant request for FY21, there are no guarantees whether or not it will be funded,‘ Blaszak wrote in a memo to commissioners.
The 0.25 millage would raise an estimated $148,097 annually and a portion of that may be disbursed to McBain and Lake City “to provide curbside recycling under contract with the county.‘
If the recycling center receives the USDA grant in the future, “the full amount wouldn’t be levied, just that being used for any construction or construction match‘ according to an FAQ.