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County commission approves parks and rec millage

St. Joseph County’s board of commissioners have approved a dedicated millage to fund the parks and recreation department.
Tuesday’s action means an additional one-quarter of a mill will be imposed countywide in 2018. Over its four-year life, the millage is expected to generate about $485,000 annually.
Commissioners said the move will ease constraints on the general fund while helping parks and rec maintain operational expenses in 2018 at an amount similar to what it was budgeted in 2017.
Commissioners acted in accordance with a county bylaw, which allows the board to adopt the millage specifically for parks and recreation without placing the matter before a public vote.
After the plan was scrutinized by more than half a dozen opponents during the “Citizen Comments” portion of the meeting, commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of the millage. Commissioners Kathy Pangle and Dennis Allen cast the dissenting votes.
A resident with a home market-valued at around $100,000 will pay an additional $25 annually to support the millage.
Commissioner Dan Czajkowski said as much as he hated to support the motion, the funding mechanism is necessary to keep the county’s financial situation from worsening.
Commission chair Allen Balog after the meeting said the vote was probably the hardest one he’s had to make in his seven-year tenure on the board. Still, Balog said, no question it was the right vote.
Balog said despite criticism earlier in the night regarding the county’s support for the athletic fields and a new Commission on Aging building in Sturgis, he stands behind the moves and said the county has not been wasteful with its money.
He said parks and recreation director Jaymes MacDonald had nothing to do with the millage increase.

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