Dear NMC community:
I have an important development to share with you.
A group known as Best Benzie, comprising dedicated Benzie County residents, is actively exploring the possibility of Benzie County joining the NMC district through an annexation vote that could occur in November 2024. Currently, Benzie County is not part of any community college district.
Here are the key highlights of this annexation initiative:
- Enhanced educational access: If approved, Benzie County residents would gain the opportunity to attend NMC as in-district students, benefiting from significantly reduced tuition rates compared to the current out-of-district rates.
- Access to programs: Approved annexation would enable Benzie County residents to participate in valuable programs such as Michigan Reconnect as in-district students, ensuring they receive the full range of program benefits.
- Millage rate: Benzie County landowners, in the event of approval, would be subject to a millage rate of 2.0574 mils, aligning with the current rate for Grand Traverse County landowners.
- Financial impact: NMC stands to gain an additional $2.6 million of tax revenue annually if the annexation proposal is approved.
- Democratic process: It’s important to note that the decision to allow this issue onto the ballot rests with the NMC Board of Trustees. They will evaluate the level of interest from Benzie County residents and decide accordingly. After that, it would be up to the eligible voters to decide.
- Community collaboration: Should voters endorse the annexation and millage, NMC is committed to collaborating closely with community members and various groups to shape an educational facility and staffing model that aligns with the missions and needs of the Benzie community.
- Education center: In line with this commitment, NMC envisions establishing a physical presence in Benzie County, including teaching and classroom space, a state-of-the-art computer lab, technology resources for students, versatile meeting spaces for interactions with students and community groups, and dedicated office space for permanent and visiting staff.
This potential annexation discussion is still in the early phases. I will be representing NMC in these talks along with several trustees and college executive staff members. Next steps include:
- Stakeholder gathering: On September 19, Best Benzie will hold a meeting to inform key stakeholders of the desire to move forward with annexation.
- Town Hall: In October, Best Benzie will hold a town hall meeting to share the intention of annexation with the Benzie County community.
- Listening sessions: Following the Town Hall, NMC will host listening sessions from October to December to better understand the Benzie County community’s needs.
This annexation initiative holds the potential to significantly enhance educational opportunities in our region, foster collaboration, and positively impact the lives of Benzie County residents. We will continue to keep you updated as this process unfolds. In fact, we’ll be holding upcoming meetings on our campus to keep you further informed of what’s unfolding.
Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions.
Nick Nissley, Ed.D. | President | Northwestern Michigan College