|By Andy Balaskovitz|
When the Ingham County Board of Commissioners decided it could no longer fund out-county township police services, the solution was to ask taxpayers in townships to pay for it themselves.
So now, 13 townships in Ingham County will have “special assessment” proposals on its ballots Nov. 2 that would finance police services: Alaiedon, Aurelius, Bunker Hill, Ingham, Leroy, Leslie, Locke, Onondaga, Stockbridge, Vevay, Wheatfield, White Oak and Williamstown.
Board Chairwoman Debbie DeLeon, who represents the 2nd district, which covers north Lansing, said police services are one of the few things that the board can legally ask these townships to pay for themselves. That’s not the case with the courts or jails, she said.
“We have courts and jails that have to take precedence.”
Eleven of the townships are setting rates that are not to exceed $150 per residential unit and $250 for industrial and commercial properties in the first year, not to exceed a 3 percent increase each succeeding year. Alaiedon and Wheatfield townships are setting mill rates for personal property, at 1 mill and 1.56 mills, respectively. Alaiedon Township anticipates $210,000 will be generated in the first year, while Wheatfield Township is anticipating $96,000.
DeLeon estimates roughly $2 million can be raised in the first year, but she is skeptical that all 13 will pass.
Potter Park Zoo
The Potter Park Zoo is looking for a five-year extension on its current .41 millage rate.
That’s $41 per year on a home with a taxable value of $100,000. The estimated revenue for the first year is about $2.9 million.
Ingham County Parks Department Director Willis Bennett said millage money makes up more than 90 percent of the park’s operating budget, while parking, admission and exhibit fees make up the rest.
The money raised will go toward operations, maintenance and improvements to the park.
City of Mason
The Mason City Council is looking for guidance from voters on whether to increase the city tax rate by .5 mills for city parks maintenance. The proposal on the ballot is not an actual increase but will give the City Council an idea of what voters want, City Clerk Deborah Cwiertniewicz said.
If the ballot question is approved and the Council follows voters’ wishes, it would raise the city tax from 13.25 to 13.75 mills and generate an additional $106,000 in the first fiscal year.
A city charter amendment on the ballot would raise the minimum amount required for sealed bids on any city purchases, from $7,500 to $10,000. Cwiertniewicz said it is a much needed “more reasonable threshold for doing business.”
Emergency services in Stockbridge area
Bunker Hill, Stockbridge and White Oak townships are asking voters to approve a millage for the Stockbridge Area Emergency Services Authority that goes back to the original rate of 1.1 mills, or $110 on a property with a taxable value of $100,000.
The roughly $373,600 expected to be generated in the first year would go toward operational, maintenance and improvement costs for fire protection and emergency medical services. The millage would last for five years, starting in December 2011.
A pair of millages in Meridian Township seeks to increase funds for fire and police services while scaling back tax rates used for land preservation.
The police and fire millage overrides the Headlee Act, which lowered the original 5-mill rate to 4.2002 because of decreasing property values. This millage would restore the original 5-mill rate for six years. It is merely a rate increase and the operating millage is not expiring, Meridian Township Supervisor Susan McGillicuddy said.
McGillicuddy said the township’s FY 2011 budget is already approved, but for 2012, “It’s going to start getting a little tricky.” An additional $1.3 million is expected in the first calendar year.
The township’s land preservation millage is being cut by more than half because, even though the original millage ends this year and has saved nearly 700 acres of property, there are “still a few more properties we’d like,” McGillicuddy said.
The rate drops from .75 mills to .35 mills and extends for another 10 years, with $536,395 expected to come in the first year. If it is not approved at the lower rate, then it expires altogether.
Lansing School District
While most educators say a building does not make the school — it’s the teachers, students and staff — facilities crumbling in disrepair are certainly not beneficial.
That is why the Lansing School District is proposing a “site sinking fund,” or special tax assessment that would go toward repairs and infrastructure improvements spread throughout the district.
The five-year millage would start in July at a rate of 1.5. It is estimated to bring in about $4.18 million in the first calendar year. State law requires these expenditures to be audited, and cannot be used for employee salaries or maintenance or operating expenses.
The Eaton County Transportation Authority asked voters in the Aug. 3 primary to approve a millage that triples the current rate from .25 mills to .75 mills in order to establish weekend services, a fixed-route system to go along with on-demand busing and a connection between Grand Ledge, Charlotte, Eaton Rapids and Lansing.
Voters shot down that request in August, but it’s back on the General Election ballot. The millage would span five years, starting in 2012 and generate about $2.5 million in the first year.