Mid Michigan College to Show-Off Renovated Harrison Campus at Ribbon Cutting

February 10, 2020

Shown above is the new entrance to MMC. When this picture was taken Wednesday, workers were busy putting the finishing touches on the exterior of the building.
The south side of the new Harrison campus is not complete but this rendition shows what it will look like when completely finished.
Located off the main corridor, the Veterans Resource Center is larger and more prominent to better serve Mid’s military-connected students.
The second floor hallway at Mid after renovation.

By Pat Maurer

In just one week, everyone will have a chance to see and tour the newly renovated Harrison Campus and be on hand for the Ribbon Cutting Celebration as well.

The event is scheduled for Valentine’s Day, February 14th from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

“Mid’s newly renovated classroom building represents a $13 million investment in the Harrison Campus,” a new press release said.

Attendees at the ceremonies next week can tour the newly renovated Harrison Campus, newly constructed Poet Family Outdoor Education Center, and existing Center for Medical Imaging Studies and Technical Education Center facilities.

“We have been saving for this project for a long time. The College’s reserve funds, a municipal bond, and a special allocation from the State have made the dream a reality,” explained Christine Hammond, Mid Michigan College President.

The funding for the renovation project was not based on the millage proposal on the March ballot, said Jessie Gordon, Associate Vice President of Strategic Communications at MMC. “There is absolutely no mention of anticipated additional taxpayer funds in the renovation financing. Funding, including the bonds, for the renovation of the Harrison Campus was based on current financing.”

The release continued, “Newly renovated spaces include a campus store and café, student food pantry, veteran’s resource center, fitness center, and wellness areas. Updated electrical and mechanical systems position Mid to be one of the most energy-efficient community colleges in the State. The renovations are in their final phases, with many areas already in use.”

The renovation showcases the college efforts to “make Mid an inviting place for members of the community and provide a more student friendly atmosphere. In addition to classroom, library and student activity space for students, the project provides adequate space to accommodate a projected 25 percent growth in future enrollment.”

MMC’s March 10 millage request, authorized at Mid Michigan College’s December Board of Trustees meeting, is a separate issue from the Harrison Campus renovation project.

At that same December meeting, the board approved the College to collect bids on a bond that would fund a portion of the Harrison renovation project. “The purpose of the bond has been reported in multiple places,” Gordon said, answering a county resident who claimed the bond proceeds were for “an unreported purpose,” and also raised several other concerns about the bond and the repayment of the bond.

Gordon said, “It wasn’t until the January Board meeting that The Board approved the amount of the bond they would seek. The approved bond amount was $6.7 Million, approximately ½ of the renovation project.”

She continued, “The remainder of the project will come from the College’s Building & Site fund, into which we’ve been saving for years. Our mechanical, lighting, and technical systems needed to be replaced. They were old, inefficient, and failing, and the College has been preparing for this investment. In fact, about 90% of the $13 million project went to new electrical and mechanical systems, as well as technology upgrades.”

Gordon added, “The College did not speculate about increased tax revenue when it decided to pursue Harrison system replacement and renovations. It is not reliant on increased tax revenue to honor its bond obligation.”

Moody’s Investors Service assigned and Aa3 rating to Mid Michigan College’s GOLT bonds, a January 16th press release from Moody’s said. They reported, “The community college does not currently have any debt associated supported by a GOULT pledge. The pledge supporting the 2006 and 2020 bonds is limited based on Michigan’s (Aa1 stable) constitutional and statutory limits on property tax levies.”

Their release continued, “The Aa3 issuer rating reflects the college’s moderately-sized tax base located in central Michigan, with below average socioeconomic characteristics. Additionally factored are the college’s satisfactory financial operations, despite enrollment declines, including healthy fund balance and liquidity, along with its low debt burden.”

“There has been a great deal of transparency around this issue,” Gordon said.

Regarding the millage request on the March ballot, the board, in “an effort to stabilize the College’s funding model, sustain campus locations, and expand community services, authorized a millage proposal for an additional 0.6268 mills to appear on the March 2020 ballot,” Gordon added.

She said, “The College’s charter millage rate was 1.5 mills. Due to Headlee rollbacks, it is now at 1.2232 mills. The requested 1.85 mills restores the original millage amount and increases it by .35 mills.”

The MMC press release explained, “If passed, the College’s total millage rate would increase to 1.85 mills for ten years. Revenue from this increase will be used for College operating purposes. Largely, it would fund advanced technology for students and academic programs, including for the health sciences and skilled trades areas.”

“To be clear,” Gordon said, “Our millage proposal is operational. If passed, tax revenue will go toward the College’s general fund. We anticipate using it for technology and equipment that support student programs, including in the skilled trades and health science areas. The [millage] proposal is not a debt or bond millage.”

Gordon explained the reason for the millage request.

“So, why the ballot proposal? Simply put, the College’s funding model is very different than other community colleges throughout Michigan and the State average. A millage increase would move the College toward a slightly more balanced model—one that is less reliant on tuition and fees. Even if passed, Mid Michigan College would still have the second lowest millage in the State among community colleges, and it would still collect the least amount from tax revenue.”

Compared to the other 28 community colleges in the State, Mid is the most dependent on tuition and fees for revenue, collects the lowest amount of property tax per fiscal year equated students, levies the second lowest millage, and operates with the fourth lowest expenditures per fiscal year equated students.

For many years, the College has relied on out-district revenue sources to maintain the Harrison Campus, and these renovations and infrastructure improvements move the campus closer to sustainability.

“Some community colleges have chosen to close their rural campus sites and consolidate operations. At Mid, we celebrate rural communities and recognize that education is essential to their survival and the important role Mid plays in providing access to educational opportunities,” noted Hammond.

A recent analysis by Economic Modeling Services, Inc., revealed that in 2018-19, Mid added $69.2 million to the local service area economy.

Mid students, who stay and live in the area, spend $4.8 million each year.

Alumni add another $43.4 million to local economies.

Mid graduates have higher paying jobs, pay more taxes, and rely less on public social services – giving our citizens a 12.5% annual rate of return on their investment in educating a Mid student.

Hammond repeated the invitation to come and see the renovations to Mid Michigan College at the Ribbon Cutting ceremony next Friday.

“Everyone is always welcome at Mid but I especially hope that many will join Representative Jason Wentworth, community leaders, members of our Board, and the Mid team for the Ribbon Cutting Celebration,” shared Hammond.

For more information about the Ribbon Cutting Celebration contact Amy Lince, Executive Assistant to the President and Board of Trustees, at alince@midmich.edu or (989) 386-6601.

Mid Michigan College, with campuses in Harrison and Mt. Pleasant, has been serving its community since 1965. With state-of-the-art facilities, experienced faculty, and vibrant student life, Mid is dedicated to helping students get the most out of their education. Learn more about Mid and all they have to offer at midmich.edu.

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