SIDNEY — This November, voters in Montcalm County will have an important decision to make in the voting booth, a decision worth $25 million in funds to Montcalm Community College (MCC).
During Tuesday morning’s MCC Board of Trustees meeting, board members unanimously approved the language for a millage renewal to appear on the ballot for the Nov. 4 general election.
If approved, the renewed millage would continue to generate approximately $2.5 million annually for the college, approximately 18 percent of the institution’s general fund, through 2025.
The same millage was initially approved in 2005 and is set to expire in early 2015.
According to MCC President Bob Ferrentino, the millage renewal is incredibly important to the college, as the monies generated fund more than 60 programs at the college and help to keep tuition rates near the state average.
“We aren’t going to take anything for granted with this,” he said. “It’s just a renewal, but a very important renewal.”
With the millage having been discussed several times previously, there was little discussion Tuesday, other than to stress that the millage renewal would not increase taxes.
“We’ve got to focus on getting the message out that this does not change anyone’s taxes, it’s only a renewal,” Board Chairwoman Karen Carbonelli said.
Ferrentino has said previously that by extending the millage into future years, the additional funds would benefit four key market sectors: manufacturing skills development, health careers, integrated information technology, and agribusiness.
According to the millage resolution language, the millage shall “be renewed by not more than 1.1823 mills ($1.1823 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of 10 years, 2016 to 2025.”
Ionia Public Schools lease agreement
Board members also voted unanimously Tuesday to enter into a lease agreement with Ionia Public Schools to utilize two classrooms for purposes of conducting credit classes, non-credit classes, testing and student services.
According to the lease agreement, MCC will pay Ionia Public Schools $500 per month for two years, totaling $6,000 per year.
This is in contrast to the previous contract between the two, which ended June 30, and was costing the college approximately $50,000 per year.
“We’ve been offering classes in Ionia Public Schools for a long time,” he said. “The rent and the level of service over the years has caused us to (review the situation).
Ferrentino said MCC had informed the Ionia Public Schools Board of Education two years ago that the college intended to opt out of the previous agreement, which ended June 30.
“At that point we told them we weren’t coming back, that we would find a different location,” he said.
Ferrentino said that decision sparked additional conversation with members of the school board, who expressed a desire to keep an MCC presence at Ionia Public Schools.
“We have revamped the agreement and talked about it at length with the folks in Ionia,” he said. “This lease calls for all the space we need for offering classes and everything else we do there, now at the tune of $6,000 a year as opposed to $50,000 a year.”
Ferrentino said with no community college located in Ionia County and MCC being the closest community college in proximity to Ionia (at about 23 miles), the decision to keep a presence in Ionia “is key” to building future successes between the college and the county.
“It allows us to continue to serve Ionia County and attempt, as we want, to continue to build our numbers down there,” he said. “Our intention was never to leave Ionia.”
Carbonelli added that she was pleased to know that community college options, such as dual enrollment, would be available to students in Ionia through MCC.
“This allows those young people more opportunities down there,” she said.