KALKASKA — Voters in Kalkaska County told county officials they were tired of paying for operating expenses at the Kaliseum sports complex.
Voters rejected a .25-mill operating tax for the sports and recreation facility on Tuesday’s ballot by 176 votes. There were 2,237 voters who agreed to pay the levy and 2,413 who said no, according to unofficial election results.
“It’ll have to go back on the ballot in November and hopefully with a general election, more people will show up to vote,” said Craig Crambell, county commissioner and chairman of the Kaliseum committee.
The countywide Kaliseum tax request was the only millage voters rejected among three county proposals, as well as four each in Coldsprings and Rapid River townships.
The rejected Kaliseum tax request was for four years, through 2023. Voters previously approved the tax in 2008, 2012 and 2016.
The Kalkaska County Board will meet at 6 p.m. Monday in a virtual meeting via Zoom to discuss and consider whether to place the Kaliseum tax request on the Nov. 3 ballot.
The failed Kaliseum operational millage would have generated about $210,500 in its first year to buoy the facility’s budget, had voters agreed. But those dollars are a budgetary necessity for a facility that has never turned a profit, Crambell said.
Should voters reject the request a second time, he said commissioners must then mull over a possible bond proposal to tear the deteriorating building down. The facility has fallen into disrepair in recent years with mechanical problems leading to structural damage.
“It’s a $10.5 million building and it’s paid for,” Crambell said. “You can’t just shut it down and walk away from it.”
The commissioner, who has served six years on the Kalkaska County Board in three consecutive terms, said many across the community resent the facility ever being built.
Voters initially approved the construction of the Kaliseum in 1996, but did not support an operational millage. Officials used the county’s general fund budget to help the facility pay its bills every year since it opened, but little was spent on maintenance.
Mechanical, structural and engineering failures have been reported at the Kaliseum. The pool area has remained closed for nearly two years after a rusty nut and bolt fell from the ceiling.
Many of the problems are attributable to years of minimal maintenance funding and failure to repair or replace equipment.
“But we have it now. It’s paid off — and then no on a quarter of a mill? Really?” Crambell said.
Consultants reported structural problems with the building stem from the failure of a humidity control system for the pool area about 11 years ago, which led to rust and deterioration of the ceiling.
The inadequate separation of the heated pool and chilled ice rink atmospheres also caused problems like condensation on the ice rink ceiling that dripped and created stalagmites on the rink that had to be smoothed out before activities.
In May 2019, voters defeated by more than 500 votes a 20-year, 1.5-mill bond proposal that would have paid for $7 million in renovations to the facility. Built into that overall $29 million plan were scheduled maintenance projects and funds for operational costs.
Contested township race outcomes
Clearwater Township treasurer
- JoAnne Childs, 227
- Christina Bradley, 224
Boardman Township supervisor
- Paul C. Erickson, 150
- Susan Ann Frakes, 102
Clearwater Township trustee (two seats)
- Albert Keyes, 243
- Gregory Bradley (incumbent), 222
- Jim Leffew, 220
Garfield Township supervisor
- Todd Jones, 143
- David Persons (incumbent), 96
Garfield Township clerk
- Brett Southworth, 127
- Juanita Persons (incumbent), 110
Garfield Township trustee
- Bryan Moore, 145
- Eric Rohn, 120
- Ryan L. Yaworski, 48
County millage outcomes
Conservation District operating tax renewal
- Yes, 3,102
- No, 1,533
Kalkaska Public Transit Authority operating tax renewal and rollback restoration
- Yes, 3,320
- No, 1,326
Township millage outcomes
Coldsprings Township fire and rescue tax renewal
- Yes, 438
- No, 74
Coldsprings Township fire equipment tax renewal
- Yes, 412
- No, 97
Coldsprings Township garbage pickup tax proposal
- Yes, 456
- No, 53
Coldsprings Township road tax renewal
- Yes, 399
- No, 114
Rapid River Township refuse tax proposal
- Yes, 254
- No, 48
Rapid River Township annual cleanup tax proposal
- Yes, 259
- No, 43
Rapid River Township road tax renewal
- Yes, 230
- No, 71
Rapid River Township fire tax proposal
- Yes, 253
- No, 49