Copper Peak Funding Bill Vote Expected By Year End
By: Richard Jenkins
IRONWOOD — While the process is taking longer than initially expected, Copper Peak supporters in the Michigan legislature hope to vote on a pair of bills to provide funding for the ski flying hill’s renovations by the end of the year.
State Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, has introduced Senate Bill 0523; while state Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain, introduced a largely identical bill — House Bill 5134 — in the state house.
The bills would take approximately $1.9 million a year from excess funds tied to bonds taken out for Cobo Hall in Detroit and allocate that money to projects in northern Michigan over the next 10 years. Copper Peak is expected to get $1.2 million of the $1.9 million a year, according to information Copper Peak board member Bob Jacquart presented at an event in October.
Ed McBroom, who appeared at the event on Casperson’s behalf to provide an update on the legislation, said the Cobo Hall bonds are being repaid through a liquor tax in the counties around Detroit. He said the taxes generate three basic revenue pools — money to pay off the bonds as scheduled, money to compensate the counties for collecting the taxes and additional revenue to speed up the repayment schedule.
“What we’re focusing on is that third pool of money, where there is more money coming in than was expected — it’s growing at about a 5 percent rate annually — and so we’re not going to set them back any from when they expected to pay off those bonds when they were first floated,” McBroom said.
He added the bills are expected to contain language that would cease the diversion of the excess funds if the amount being collected dropped below a certain rate and the bonds were no longer scheduled to be paid off by their 2039 expiration date.
He added there were no projections that indicated this was something that would realistically happen.
“Liquor keeps on selling,” he joked.
McBroom told the Daily Globe Tuesday the two bills are largely moving in tandem through their respective legislative bodies.
“The senate bill is out of committee and they’re rounding up votes,” McBroom said, adding the house is expected to hold a hearing on its legislation the week after Thanksgiving.
McBroom was largely pleased with how the process was going.
“Right now things are looking very positive, especially in the House,” he said.
He did say there has been some concerns expressed — particularly by some of the senators representing the Detroit area — regarding whether the excess money should be kept in Detroit or spread throughout the state.
“I think we’re overcoming that but it takes extra politics,” McBroom said.
If passed, the legislation would enable the repairs to Copper Peak necessary to allow the hill to host international ski flying competitions by the latest target date of the summer of 2019.