Gratiot voters make it clear: They want Extension in their county

Voters in Gratiot County were asked this week if they were willing to tax themselves to fund having Extension offered in their county. In recent years, Gratiot County commissioners have funded their partnership with Michigan State University Extension through property taxes authorized under Public Act 88. This funding mechanism is unique in that it allows the County Commission to levy a property tax without requiring approval of the public. Aside from the base property tax millage allowed in the Michigan Constitution for funding county government, all other special millages for county governmental functions require approval of a majority of voters. Earlier this year, the Gratiot County Board decided they would prefer to use the normal millage process to ensure that voters have a say in whether they are levied this tax or not.

The millage that voters considered in Tuesday’s election was for 0.5 mills and was for funding the county economic development corporation as well as for funding the county share of MSU Extension costs in the county. When the ballots were tallied late Tuesday night, the results were very conclusive: 2372 voters in support of the millage and 605 against it. That means that 79.7 percent of the voters were in favor of the millage. Most millage votes are much closer than this, so the fact that the approval was so overwhelming is a good indication that the folks in Gratiot County are serious about the partnership they have with MSU Extension. And that’s good news for us, because we are just as serious about the partnership and we look forward to building on that strength in the years ahead.

Thanks to District 8 coordinator Don Lehman, and the staff in our Gratiot County office: Dan Rossman, Matthew Newman, Jerry May, Lori Malik and (recently retired) Gladys Jerome. Patty Macha, a 4-H leader and volunteer, Brian Gardner, fair manager, and Don Schurr, executive director of Greater Gratiot Development, Inc., led a committed group of volunteers that all contributed to an effort to inform voters about the work we do in Gratiot County. Thanks to all who helped, and congratulations on a tremendous outcome!

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