The right move on liaison officer vote

After some second thoughts, Iron Mountain City Council made the correct decision when it moved the School Liaison Millage Ballot Proposal to the 2014 November General Election’s ballot.

Iron Mountain City Council had initially voted to place the millage proposal on the August Primary election ballots.

Iron Mountain Schools officials had requested that the city put the ballot proposal before the taxpayers for up to .5 mill to fully fund the school liaison officer position.

The ballot proposal, explained City Manager Jordan Stanchina, must come from the city because the school district is only able to request a millage levy for debt or a sinking fund.

The millage proposal would ask voters to approve funding the position for another five-year period and start with the July 2015 summer tax bill.

According to the proposed ballot language, it is estimated that .5 mill would raise approximately $111,949 when it is first levied in 2015.

Stanchina said that under current costs for the position, only .334 mills would need to be levied to cover the position.

The current school liaison millage will be levied for the last time during this year’s summer tax bill.

Earlier this year, the city had agreed to levy the maximum of .25 mills, which creates a funding split of 61 percent coming from the city and 39 percent from the school district.

The council agreed to the change in the normal 50/50 split this year due to the current financial difficulties the school district is under – operating with a deficit budget.

It was also noted that the liaison officer position does provide benefits to the city of Iron Mountain.

During the summer when there are no classes, the city has an extra officer to assist with the work load and can be used to help reduce overtime.

Officials say the liaison officer provides a valuable service at the school district. He serves at the school every day. He coordinates crime prevention and education programs.

He deals with traffic safety, abuse, bullying, harassment, theft, drug and campus security issues; and becomes a trusted friend to the students.

Moving the proposal from the Primary Election to the General Election in November was a wise move.

After much discussion at the April 7 meeting, the council agreed to put the issue before voters during the August election.

Later, Stanchina, in his memo to council, noted that some council members expressed to him that they only wanted to have the ballot proposal question before the voters once and would prefer that it be for the November election.

“They said that if they were going to take one shot to bring it to the voters they would rather see it in November rather than in August,” he added.

Voter turnout at a primary election, in general, is much lower than in the November General Election.

For such an important issue, it was proper for the city to try to reach as many voters as possible.