By a better than two-to-one margin, Dog Island voters have approved a measure to raise their millage from 3 to 4 mills.
Out of 319 mail-in ballots sent to freeholders within the Dog Island Conservation District, 138 of them, or a little more than 43 percent, were returned by the Tuesday evening deadline.
The counting in Supervisor of Elections Heather Riley’s office showed that 96, of about 70 percent, voted in favor, with the remaining 42 voting no.
“It all went like clockwork,” said Riley, estimating that the election’s cost, which is borne by the district, will run about $3,000.
The victory pleased the measure’s supporters, who had argued to constituents that the money was a necessary evil, given the decline in property values. The district had not raised millage since it was first set at 3.0 mills in 1975, and with the decrease in property values, it was now getting only one-third of what it received a decade ago.
The stepped-up millage, to start in October, will add about $27,000 to the budget in the first year, from $79,000 to about $105,000, which still would be less than half of what it was in the glory days of 2007-08, when the millage brought in about $230,000.
“We’re very pleased with the vote,” said Christopher Teaf, the district’s treasurer. “We thought it was necessary and we’re happy people agreed. I think it’s going to be what we need and I think people understood that.”
The measure stipulated the monies raised go “for the purpose, planning and implementation of waste disposal and recycling, maintenance of property, construction and maintenance of public roads, employment of necessary personnel, planning for use and maintenance of beaches and dunes, and programs to maintain natural beauty of Dog Island that lies within the district.”
Teaf said those costs include such things as taxes, insurance and the submerged land use fee, with a pretty good chunk of it, about $7,000 to $8,000 going towards the mandatory annual audit.
While the Nature Conservancy owns the vast majority of roads on the island, none of which are paved, the district maintains those roads.
The election required a determination by County Attorney Michael Shuler as to who constituted a freeholder, defined as those who have interest and title to real property within the district.
A husband and wife was counted as one; otherwise, it was one vote for anyone who owns some or all of at least one piece of property, regardless of whether they were full or part-time residents, or didn’t live there at all.
Shuler said there are about 700 parcels on the island. In the end 319 freeholders were determined to be eligible to vote, with a corporate ownership entity entitled to designate up to two persons to be voters.
The conservation district board, which meets quarterly, is chaired by Ray Appen, with Roy Collins as vice, plus Len Morris, William Stone and Teaf.