Legislation to create a low-interest loan program that would help marinas to pay for emergency dredging projects is heading to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder for approval.
State Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, R-Columbus Township, and Sen. Jack Brandenburg, R-Harrison Township, introduced legislation earlier this month that would form a partnership with marina owners, private lenders and the state to help in dredging project, according to Brandenburg's office.
On Thursday, LaFontaine, whose district encompasses lakeside Chesterfield Township and New Baltimore, praised the House and Senate's passage of the legislation that comes as Lake St. Clair has reached critically low levels, affecting boaters and business owners in several shoreline communities.
"Our harbors are integral to tourism and tie in closely with our economic success as the Great Lakes state," she said in a prepared statement. "To ensure a Pure Michigan spring and summer, for both our economy and our own recreation, we need to enable maintenance of harbors statewide."
According to LaFontaine, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, highlights of the legislation that passed Wednesday in the House and Thursday in the Senate are:
- Eligible marinas will pay a 2.5 percent (or .75 percent below prime) interest rate on loans by private lenders. The state will supplement the process by paying lenders a loan origination fee totaling five percent of the original loan amount--paid out over the five-year term of the loan.
- There is no risk to Michigan taxpayers associated with these loans.
- The program will cap loans to individual marinas at $500,000 with a maximum state cost for the partial reimbursement of administration/origination/risk costs of $1 million over the life of the project.
“We commend the Senate and House for their commitment to help Michigan’s marinas and Michigan’s boaters,” said MBIA Board Chairman Jim Coburn, in a release. “We are pleased our legislators recognize the importance of Michigan’s boating industry to the future of Michigan. Thanks also needs to be given to Governor Snyder for identifying the crisis in early January and issuing a call to action. We look forward to his signature on this much needed assistance for Michigan’s boating industry.”
This program, if signed off by Snyder, would be similar to a loan program offered to Michigan farmers last year. That program aimed to help farmers coping with damaged crops following an unseasonable warm spring.