Editor’s Note: This story focuses on only two of seven ballot proposals in Ingham County. The others were can be found here.
Seven local funding proposals will be on the ballot at next month’s presidential primary election. Everything (as always) could use some extra cash in Ingham County, officials said. But how do voters decide what deserves it? This primary election guide is designed to help in that decision.
Polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on March 10. No-reason absentee ballots have already been made available.
Ingham County Health Services millage increase
This Ingham County millage proposal looks to re-authorize funding for basic health care and mental health services to low-income residents without medical insurance and those who are not eligible for Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. The funding would help residents pay for access to doctor visits, generic medications, mental health services and essential care like treatment for cancer, diabetes, heart disease and more.
If approved, the millage would be renewed through 2023 and its rate would climb 0.63 mills to raise about $4.8 million in the first year after its passage. And officials said the funding will help fill gaps in local health coverage.
“There are still thousands of people in our community without access to affordable, quality health care,” explained County Commissioner Thomas Morgan. “This millage helps to fill that gap and ensure that people can get the medical care they need. This millage quite literally saves lives.”
County records show the Ingham County Health Plan served more than 2,000 residents in 2018, with more than 1,500 residents considered eligible to receive funds through the millage. It also paid out nearly $1 million in claims for appointments and more than $150,000 to fill more than 17,000 prescriptions during that time period.
The expanded millage request would also help cover mental health services for low-income residents, offering around-the-clock crisis services, treatment planning, intensive support, psychiatric care, skills training and more.
“Investing in early intervention can ultimately save taxpayer resources in the long run, not to mention helping to prevent irreversible tragedies,” Morgan added. “We can’t wait for Republicans in the legislature to act. We must take care of one another here at home.”
Potter Park Zoo Operational Millage increase
The Potter Park Zoo is also looking to boost maintenance efforts and tackle various park improvements over the next six years by increasing its 0.41 millage to 0.5 mills through 2026. Zoo officials said the extra cash is essential to ensuring animals are safe, the zoo maintains its national accreditation and its facilities are kept up to date.
“We’re hoping that voters recognize how the zoo as a really important community asset and contributes to a higher quality of life for people that live in Greater Lansing and Michigan as a whole,” said Amy Morris-Hall, director of the Potter Park Zoological Society. “We really want to improve this asset for generations to come.”
Local voters have a history of supporting the zoo millage. It passed by 64% in 2006 and again by 69% in 2010. Officials said the latest millage approval in 2016 — which passed by 77% — set a new record for voter support. And with a nationally famous infant rhino now inside, zoo officials want to keep up the pace at the polls.
In addition to maintaining the national accreditation that makes activities like the rhino exhibit possible, Potter Park Zoo Director Cynthia Wagner said the millage increase will help to replace vehicles, support the installation of new walkways, pay for some tree removal and help with the construction of a new, on-site animal hospital.
“If we don’t meet accreditation standards, a lot of programs — especially the rhinos which are one of our more high-profile exhibits — would likely need to move to another facility,” Wagner explained to City Pulse. “Without the funding needed for accreditation, we’d essentially just become another small-town zoo.”