ISHPEMING — A proposed ordinance affecting Ishpeming’s historic downtown is currently being considered by the City Council.

Ordinance 11-905 saw its first reading at a council meeting earlier this week. The ordinance would shrink the size of the Downtown Development Authority’s district, which was expanded in years past to help spur development in areas such as Hematite Heights.

“There was really no money in the budget from the city itself to accomplish that, but it could be accomplished through the DDA,” said DDA Chairman David Aeh. “So the argument at the time was for economic development for the community as a whole, and in order to bring new residential development, and then hopefully new families and students to enroll in Ishpeming Public Schools, that this was a good idea, and it was a successful argument in and of the fact that I think that it was true, but then what it did is it did divert resources and attention away from the downtown.”

Taxpayers won’t see a difference with the change, but revenue streams for the city and DDA will change.

“This doesn’t affect anybody’s tax amount, but it affects how the tax money gets distributed,” said City Manager Mark Slown.
“As a percent of the area, it’s a large contraction,” added Aeh, “but as a percent of the total revenue, it’s a small contraction.”

Aeh added that changes to the way school and some other taxes have been collected and used in the DDA budget has had a much larger effect on their finances, but he remains optimistic about the authority’s capability to maintain forward momentum.

The ordinance will be addressed again at the next City Council meeting in December. If approved, it will become effective upon publication.