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Township approves Mill Trace tax break


December 7, 2017

Richard Jenkins/Daily Globe

THE IRONWOOD Township Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to adopt an ordinance granting a tax break to the Mill Trace Apartments, seen here before Tuesday's meeting, that should enable renovations and improvements to the income-based apartment complex off Lake Road.


Ironwood Township - While there is a still a degree of skepticism about the idea, the Ironwood Township Board of Trustees voted 5-2 to adopt an ordinance granting a tax break for the Mill Trace Apartments Wednesday.

Trustees Kevin Lyons and Bev Michaels voted against the measure.

Ordinance No. 55 will have those operating Mill Trace pay the township a $2,500 annual service charge in lieu of paying the various taxes on the property.

The money saved by the tax break - along with $356,342 in federal housing tax credits administered by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, which were announced in July - will be used to improve the income-based housing complex off Lake Road and make it more attractive to renters.

"It's important to have really good low to middle-income housing. Diversity is good in a neighborhood and this is going to be such nice, high-quality stuff and I'm excited to have that (in the township)," Township Supervisor Steve Boyd said after the meeting. "It's good for the school system, because a lot of these people bring in families - and everybody wins when that place is well-run and well-maintained. We feel these people, who are going to (operate it) now, will be doing that."

The ordinance replaces the original tax break ordinance passed in 2015 - a little more than a year after the Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress took over operating the complex in June 2014. According to the ordinance passed Wednesday, the complex is currently overseen by a partnership of UPCAP-affiliated Upper Peninsula Housing, LLC and TJ Acquisitions.

When the ordinance was being discussed in 2015, UPCAP representatives said Mill Trace was paying roughly $20,390 in taxes to the local school district, county, township and other entities receiving tax funds from properties in the township. The township was receiving roughly 8.65 percent of the property's taxes.

Some trustees expressed concern with the idea of passing a new ordinance, as they felt minimal progress had been made on the improvements and renovations promised prior to the passage of the 2015 ordinance.

"They're calling this improvements Steve, but that's a stretch," Lyons said, referencing a list of completed improvements Boyd passed onto the board from those overseeing the complex. "So I guess I'm still very reluctant with this whole deal, because when they came in and asked us for (the original ordinance) they had this whole list of improvements they were going to do and I don't know if they did any of them."

Several board members agreed several items on the list seemed to be more maintenance and general upkeep than building improvements.

While Boyd said the concerns and criticisms were valid, the new ordinance not only included a timeline of work expected to be completed through March 2019, but an opt-out provision if the township feels the improvements and renovations aren't being completed as promised.

Boyd also said the new ordinance also requires the township receive progress updates every six months and he would be following up to ensure the work was being done as promised.

Despite the concerns, there was generally a consensus among board members that the complex needed to continue to operate and the loss of the other revenue it generates - such as its water bills - would negatively impact township residents.

The ordinance remains in effect for 15 years, according to the ordinance language, but automatically terminates if rehabilitation of the Mill Trace complex doesn't begin within two years of the ordinance taking effect.

In other action:

-The board approved a survey, which will be mailed to residents to gauge public opinion on medical marijuana and other land-use issues in the township. Along with the mailed survey, a longer version is online.

-The board approved changing the township's retirement plan so only the supervisor, clerk, treasurer and full-time employees would be eligible to participate. The decision to remove trustees from the plan had previously been made, but the decision needed to be formalized in a motion.

-The board approved a fireworks permit for Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort.

-The board adopted a resolution updating the township's rates and regulations. Among changes were the establishment of a $10 deposit for keys to the township gym, new hours for the township treasurer's office, an increase to the rate volunteer firefighters receive during training and changes to the rental rate for the township hall's gym.

-The board adopted a resolution setting board salaries at $40,440 for the supervisor, $37,440 for the clerk and treasurer and $6,825 for the four trustees.

-The board approved paying the former deputy treasurer/secretary Rachel Peck the accrued sick and vacation time she was owed under the township's union contract and state law.


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