Voters face rec, senior millages

ALPENA – Providing services for seniors and children in Alpena has been a priority of many in Alpena County. In 2010 voters passed a senior millage that helps support senior support and a youth and recreation millage that has enhanced recreation activities and facilities in the county.

On Tuesday each will be up for a renewal and it will be up to the voters to determine if they want to continue to pay the tax that has helped improve the lives of both young and old, officials said.

The senior millage will remain a 0.55 mill and run for four years if approved during the primary election. Alpena County Older Committee Chair Germaine Stoppa said the money received from the millage is critical in offering seniors services and activities they need.

“The money is used for people 60 and over in Alpena County and it is spread around to different organizations and groups that deal with seniors or provide services for them,” Stoppa said. “The community has always been very supportive of the seniors and we have never asked for an increase. If the millage were to fail many senior services would be gone and it would be devastating to the senior center. It depends on this to function and offer what they do to Alpena’s seniors.”

The youth and recreation millage would be for a half-mill and also would be extended another four years. The cost to taxpayers would be $25 for every $100,000 of value on their property. Alpena County Youth & Recreation Committee Chair Tony Suszek said over the span of the first millage 148 requests for funds came before the committee, of which 118 received money.

He said every township, the city and most organizations and groups received money to either improve recreation facilities, or to use toward lowering registration costs for kids. Suszek said he believes the first millage was a great success and the investment made was done wisely. He said there still are many legitimate projects that could be done.

“The fist millage had a great impact on everyone. In some form almost every child, parent or grandparent benefited from it,” Suszek said. “We have upgraded the local baseball and softball fields, helped the Boys and Girls Club and 4-H and helped support high school athletics. People should really go on the website and see what was done with the money and see the before and after pictures. For about $25 a year I think it was a bargain.”

Suszek said if the voters were to vote down the renewal, the ramifications would be severe for Plaza Pool and the cost for kids to play many sports would increase significantly. He said local athletic and recreation groups would have to return to high volume fundraising, which could cost people more in the long run.

“The pool and 4-H would probably not be able able to go on very much longer, because the county would have to fund them and I’m pretty sure they aren’t going to be able to afford that,” Suszek said. “There would also be several high school sports that would be in jeopardy. We hope to get to the point to where we can lower the amount of the millage, but right now the committee feels it can’t be done from the amount of good proposals we get. A list of all the projects is on the website and I think if people go on it they will see how transparent we have been and see exactly where their money was used.”

Youth and recreation millage information and a full list of projects can be found at www.alpenacounty.org/youth.html.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at www.thealpenanews.com.