Local News

Barry County Commission Chairman Ben Geiger issued a clarification after Tuesday’s meeting on the commission’s future consideration of a millage request to fund a new Commission On Aging building.

Commissioners will not vote next week on the issue, but instead will discuss several issues over the coming weeks regarding revised ballot language, discussing paring the size of  the building from 25,000 square feet to 20, 000 square feet, and the size of the millage, “to save some taxpayers dollars,” Geiger said. The initial plan was for a 20 year, 0.1843 millage request on the Nov. 7  ballot to fund a new $6 million Commission on Aging building.


A resolution approving an Aug. 8 ballot request was ready for a vote at Tuesday’s special board meeting, but COA Director Tammy Pennington said she preferred a November date to give them time to answer questions and provide information to the people.

By consensus, the commission agreed to change the resolution language to Nov.7 and now have until Aug. 15 to submit revised ballot language.


The latest, updated financial figures show a new 25,000 square foot building closer to M-43 at its present site on Woodlawn Avenue that would cost $5.5 million; adding architectural costs of $385,000 and the cost of bonding, $135,000, brings the total of $6 million.

Funding the project as presented, would require a 20-year bond; with 4.5 percent annual interest, the requested millage would be 0.1843 mills. Barry County property owners with a taxable value of $50,000 would pay, on average, $3.27 the first year and $9.22 in subsequent years. //


Pennington, who gave the COA’s  annual report at the committee of the whole meeting immediately before the special board meeting, answered several questions from commissioners.

After consulting similar counties COA’s with like facilities, Pennington expected savings of approximately $19,632 annually by making Meals on Wheel meals in house in a new commercial kitchen and anticipated growth of the adult day services. She anticipated more savings from other programs, fund raising events and other services.

With more room, adult care could serve 15 to 20 adults, up from nine. Wheelchairs and  walkers hamper movement in the small space they have now, she said.


Pennington said the “big room” that the community uses frequently for special meetings,  holds 180 and would go to 300. With more space, they wouldn’t have to set up and take down every event they have in the big room. With dedicated smaller rooms, say for computer use and instruction,  they could run two programs at one time, without having set it up and tear it down,” she said. “Overall, it would help our core mission.”


Without a new building, the cost for maintaining the current building would be approximately $175,000 to $200,000.

Asked they could forgo repairs for a while if the millage passed, she said: “We could get by for two years, if a new building was at the end of the rainbow.”


The COA board met last week and passed a resolution supporting a millage request for August or November. The last COA millage request of 0.497 mills for 10 years was approved by voters in 2015.


A second proposal to move the COA into the Barry Eaton District Health Department building, the BEDHD into the Friend of the Courts building, the FOC into the empty Michigan State University’s Extension offices in the Courts & Law Building at a cost of  $5.5 million was not discussed.









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