Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Thursday

April 18, 2013

College may ask for more funds

TRAVERSE CITY — Northwestern Michigan College trustees are expected to decide next week on whether to ask Grand Traverse County voters for a property tax increase of .4 mills to help pay for daily operations.

A "yes" vote would mean a $1.7 million annual boost in college coffers — money the college needs to transform itself for the future, said NMC President Tim Nelson in an interview with the Record-Eagle editorial board.

“We’ve looked at the environment in which we operate, and it’s changing dramatically and causing us to transform as fast as we can," Nelson said.

Nelson said the board on April 22 will consider legal pros and cons of how to ask for a .4 mill increase, for example, whether to restore the existing 2.17 millage to 2.5742 — the rate approved in 1995 — or to ask for a new millage of .4042.

Nelson said NMC plans to focus on new programming, but state law bans him from specifically saying how additional annual revenues would be used.

NMC's millage request, if approved, would come before voters in August. Nelson's announcement comes at a time when Traverse City Area Public Schools is poised to decide on whether to put a scaled-down millage request before voters in November.

Voters last year trounced TCAPS' .8-mill increase request to raise $100 million for capital improvements. Since December, the district has queried community members about their support for specific capital improvements in a series of forums, surveys, and informal conversations. A scientific survey was conducted last weekend, the final piece of the study, said TCAPS Superintendent Stephen Cousins.

The TCAPS board will hear recommendations on May 6, he said.

Cousins said Nelson told him about the college’s possible millage request on Tuesday.

“I didn’t expect it when I heard about it,” he said. “As an educator and a strong supporter of NMC, I think they’re a great asset, just as I think TCAPS is a great asset. ... But it would be very difficult for me to comment on their millage proposal because I don’t know the details on it. I’d have to look at it and study it and see what it means for TCAPS.”

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