There are five city commissions and boards that require valuable volunteer time by community members. Attached is a handbook detailing the appointment process and procedures for commission and board members to follow. If you are interested in serving on one of Houghton’s commissions or boards, please review the handbook and fill out the attached application and return it to the clerk.  The council may choose to interview applicants for some positions before making an appointment.

Planning Commission

The Planning Commission consists of the mayor, city manager, one council member, and six citizen members. The commission has powers and duties set forth by the Michigan Planning Enabling Act and the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act. The commission meets the fourth Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the City Center. The commission may hold special meetings when necessary and often appoints subcommittees of members to work on projects.

Current Members:

  • Eric Waara, City Manager
  • Robert Backon, Mayor
  • Tom Merz, Chairperson
  • Mike Needham
  • Kristine Bradof
  • Bill Leder, Vice Chairperson
  • Dan Liebau
  • Michele Edith Jarvie-Eggart, Secretary
  • Jennifer Julien

Planning Commission 2020 Schedule

Downtown Development Authority and Tax Increment Finance Authority (DDA/TIFA)

The DDA/TIFA is comprised of the city manager and eight citizen members. At least five of the members must own property located in the downtown district and one member must be a resident of the downtown district. The DDA/TIFA board approves the budgets and projects for the authorities. The DDA/TIFA meets at least two times per year at the City Center. Special meetings are called when necessary.

Current Members:

  • Richard Gray, Chairperson
  • John McRae, Vice Chairperson
  • Jeff Bugni, Secretary
  • Mike Tomasi
  • Jack Swift
  • Darrell Guitar
  • Alan Kiley
  • Eric Waara, City Manager
  • Virginia Cole

Board of Review

The Board of Review serves at a system of checks and balances between the assessor and the general public. Every March, the board receives and examines the assessment roll from the assessor and hears appeals from property owners regarding their assessments and values established by the assessor. In July and December, the board meets to approve qualified errors that are discovered after the March meetings. Board members must be able to meet for a total of 12 hours on two different days in March. The remaining meetings during the year last approximately one hour.

Current Members:

  • Debra Zei
  • Hilary Sproule
  • Cameron Herrington

Local Development Finance Authority (LDFA)

The Local Development Finance Authority was created in 2001. At that time the State of Michigan approved the SmartZone designation for the authorized Tax Increment Financing district including the Cities of Houghton and Hancock. SmartZones were created to spur the development of technology based businesses in communities with technology based universities. The LDFA board is a partnership with members from both the Cities of Houghton and Hancock and one at-large member.

Housing Commission

The Housing Commission meets once per month at Heritage Manor. The commission oversees the director who manages the day-to-day operations of Heritage Manor and 30 family houses located throughout the city.

Current Members:

  • James Gentry
  • Hazel Tepsa
  • Jean LaBerge
  • Polly Salmi
  • Debra Zei
  • Paula Megowen

Portage Lake District Library Board

The property owners in the City of Houghton and Township of Portage fund the Portage Lake District Library. The Houghton City Council appoints four of the members of the board from residents of the city. The remaining members are appointed by the Township of Portage. The library board oversees the director who manages the Library located on the waterfront in downtown Houghton. The board meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month at the library.

Current Houghton Members:

  • Jennifer Donovan
  • Joan Suits
  • Bob Kinnunen
  • Gloria Melton
aerial view of the city of Houghton and lift bridge