Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Michigan voters head to polls today

BESSEMER — While most Michigan voters taking part in today’s election will only be voting on a statewide proposal to change the way state roads are funded, voters within the limits of the Wakefield-Marenisco School District will also be voting on a proposed bond to replace the district’s school buses.

If approved, the 0.6 mill increase that the district is asking for would generate $395,000, according to information on the district’s website. The 0.6 mill, which translates to 60 cents for each $1,000 of a property’s taxable value, would last for up to eight years, according to the ballot’s language, until the district paid off the amount owed on the buses.

The money would be used to purchase four new buses over four years, according to the district’s website, which would replace the four buses currently used by the district.

According to information provided by the district, the newest bus being used by the district was purchased in 2008 but has the most miles as it has the longest route. The others are older but with less miles, according to the district.

The school district includes the city of Wakefield, Wakefield Township, Marenisco Township and a portion of Bessemer Township.

Gogebic County Clerk Gerry Pelissero is also reminding city of Wakefield voters that their polling location has moved from the old city hall to the new municipal building.

Road funding

All Michigan voters have the opportunity to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to change, among other things, how the state funds repairs to its roads.

A somewhat complicated proposal, the ballot measure would create a number of laws if approved, impacting the state’s sales tax, how revenue is shared and how funding is generated to fix Michigan roads.

The proposed change would increase the general sales tax from 6 to 7 percent and exempt fuel purchases from the state’s sales tax. According to information from the Associated Press, under the current system, those filling up at Michigan gas stations pay a fuel tax as well as the state’s 6 percent sales tax on fuel purchases.

The change would also tie increases in the fuel tax to the rate of inflation and require that revenue raised from the fuel taxes be devoted to improving Michigan’s roads. The increase in the general sales tax is designed to help local municipalities make up for the revenue lost through restricting what fuel taxes can be spent on.

The proposal would also end the gradual decrease in license plate fees and increase the tax credit for lower-wage earners, according to The Associated Press.

Other changes triggered by approval of the amendment would be an increase in the registration taxes for commercial trucks and electric/hybrid vehicles, as well as limitations on how school aid funding could be spent. The change would also improve warranty and bidding practices for roadwork, according to the Associated Press.

According to The Associated Press, the proposed change is expected to generate an additional $1.8 billion a year, including $1.3 billion in transportation funding.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. today.

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