Board of Trustees Authorize Language Seeking Voter Support for Strong Future of Education in Delta County


With a unanimous vote, the Bay College Board of Trustees authorized language that will appear on the November 5th ballot that asks voters to approve an operating millage addressing budget short-falls caused by declining State funding and simultaneously tackles critical college infrastructure upgrades necessary for a safe, energy-efficient 21st century campus.

The request of less than one mill ensures a healthy financial forecast for Bay College for 20 years by combining a 0.7 increase that would enable long-term savings through revamped efficiencies in Bay’s current building, lighting, safety and security and heating and cooling systems along with a restoration of the millage rate that has been subjected to Headlee rollbacks. The Headlee Amendment, approved by Michigan voters in 1978 limits revenue to public colleges in Michigan by causing downward pressure on millage rates. The loss to Bay College amounting to approximately $230,000 per year would be restored through the Headlee restoration portion of the millage request in the amount of 0.1924 mills. Voters will therefore be asked to approve a total millage increase of 0.8924 mills.

Community support has been a critical part of Bay College’s legacy of excellence which in the past 57 years has awarded 16,120 degrees and certificates to 12,483 graduates, nearly 80% of whom live, work and play in the Upper Peninsula as today’s nurses, business owners, welders, doctors, lawyers, teachers, law enforcement officers, paramedics and other unlimited rewarding careers that keep our community vibrant. For less than $2.97 per month or pennies per day for homeowners with an $80,000 home and $7.44 per month for homeowners with a $200,000 home, the average Delta County homeowner will be asked to help Bay continue this strong legacy of success so tomorrow’s generations of students have the same opportunities to pursue life-changing higher educational opportunities close to home at an affordable price. Remaining steadfast in its commitment to financial conservatism, stewardship and students’ success, a significant proportion of whom are eligible for financial aid.  Bay College Board of Trustees limit increases to student tuition to keep college an affordable opportunity for all. 

“Bay College staff, faculty, board members, students- we live here too so we feel and understand directly economic pressures we all face by the state’s economy, increases in health insurance, and the cost of living. It seems we’re asked to do more. Asking for the community’s support is therefore not taken lightly. But we sincerely hope the community understands this is the same challenging economic climate the college operates within and our parameters remain focused on keeping education affordable. Your support is necessary for Bay College to create a safe, efficient and productive environment. Chances are, you or someone close to you has had their life positively impacted by Bay College. We ask voters to consider the small price being asked of them on November 5th that has a ripple effect in our community,” says Board of Trustees member, Steven Davis.

Confirming the positive impact between Bay College and the community, a study by Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc. (EMSI) confirmed the impact Bay College has on the community during which it was determined that students have a $4.80 rate of return on every $1.00 spent on their education, taxpayers a return of $6.80 on every $1.00 spent on higher education taxes, together with the College contributing over $100 million into the local community annually.  Bay College students stay and work in our community, rebuilding the local economy one day and one job at a time. Their education at Bay College enriches lives, and adds to the quality of life in the Central Upper Peninsula. It’s not just students who are benefiting from Bay College. As the community’s college, and source for intellectual, cultural and personal enrichment, Bay College serves thousands of conference attendees and trainees each year, plus hundreds of community members on campus each week using the facilities for meetings, conferences, trainings and events.

“Ask almost any student or graduate, and they’ll tell you a compelling story of how Bay College changed their life. How a professor inspired them. How services, like tutoring and supplemental instruction, were instrumental in achieving success. How their plan to transfer core classes worked perfectly. How Bay College was exactly what they needed it to be,” says Bay College President, Laura Coleman, PhD. “Bay has been that way since we opened our doors 57 years ago. Some of our building infrastructure, boilers, chillers, fire alarm and security systems have been there too.  It is our responsibility to provide our students and the community with a safe and efficient campus. In a way, Bay College is like a home, a home for everyone that is. In that same vein, we have to take care of our home when things are broken and old before fixes become too expensive or dangerous; this is the fiscally responsible thing to do.”

If the proposal is approved, millage dollars will go towards a comprehensive, cost-effective improvement plan to continue to ensure a productive learning environment, allowing Bay College to keep developing and providing programs meeting current and future requirements of worthy, sustainable jobs. The proposal includes upgrades of several systems, LED lighting, water conservation projects and enhanced security systems all in one project, resulting in an annual energy savings of $173,658 and nearly $40,000 annually in operational savings.

Bay College will conduct several “Let’s Talk” community sessions with President Dr. Laura Coleman. The first session scheduled is Friday, August 9 from 12 PM to 1:30 PM EST in the Joseph Heirman University Center. President Coleman invites all interested community members for conversation, to ask questions and to learn more about Bay College and the millage proposal to fund the future.  Grab your lunch and join Dr. Coleman on campus.

Providing higher educational opportunities to thousands of students annually through academic programs, unlimited transfer opportunities, and lifelong learning non-credit and workforce development courses, Bay is committed to the future of affordable and accessible higher education, our communities and innovative programs to advance lives. Bay College employees are dedicated to the success of each student, their colleagues, and our communities.  For more information about Bay College, please visit the Bay College website.