County board moves to cut old Kaliseum levies, if ballot proposal passes

Dennis Mansfield, Contributing Writer

KALKASKA – And, then there was only one. Or, there could be only one.

As planned, the Kalkaska County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution at its regular meeting Wednesday, March 22, that states the board will only levy a new 20-year, 1.5-mill levy if the proposal for the renovation and operation of the Kaliseum Recreation Complex is approved by voters in an upcoming special election on Tuesday, May 7.

Currently, county taxpayers are funding two millages for the Kaliseum. That includes a 0.73-mill bond that was approved in 1996 to pay for the construction of the Kaliseum and a renewal of a 0.25-mill operational levy.

Prior to the March 22 meeting, District No. 2 Commissioner Kohn Fisher said the resolution was in response to concerns voiced by potential voters who had attended one of several public forums being held in advance of the May 7 election on whether the board would continue to levy the two older millages, even if the new proposal passed.

“The thing is, we have enough money to pay off the original bond levy,” said the board’s vice chairperson, District No. 7 Commissioner Patty Cox. “We don’t need to put that on the tax bill anyway.

“It could. We could still levy it,” Cox added. “But, that’s not the way we want to do things.”

If approved by voters, the proposed 20-year levy would help raise over $28 million to repair and upgrade the facility, as well as fund operations over the duration of the millage.

Plans call for the replacement of all existing “mechanicals” at the Kaliseum, which opened in 1999, including a low-temp ice chiller, air-handling units for the ice arena and pool area, hot water boiler system and a high efficiency space cooling chiller.

Other improvements would be to install systems, including air conditioning, to make the second floor of the Kaliseum useable year round. And, a new ice melt system would also be installed at the front entrance.

Another key to the proposal would be the installation of a building automation control network system to maximize efficiency throughout the facility in order to provide for increased energy savings.

Interior finishes to be funded by the proposal would include the demolition of drywall and metal studs on the second floor’s south wing to provide for a contiguous open space, addition of two restrooms on the second floor, as well as various renovations to all other restrooms, paint and patchwork throughout the facility, removal of the drop-ceiling grid in the lobby and refresh the pool space with new paint and tile.

Fisher has said a key factor of the millage proposal is that it would provide funding for both the operation and ongoing maintenance of the facility throughout the two decades of the levy.

But, Cox added another reason she supports the proposal is that it will make the Kaliseum a true “year-round” facility for the community.

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