Voters Face 206 Local Proposals, Most to Increase Taxes

October 24, 2013

According to Gongwer News Service, voters face 206 local proposals on the November 5 ballot. Most of these proposals would increase taxes.

A Gongwer News Service analysis of the ballots in local elections across the state also showed 18 requests for property tax increases to fund police departments, fire departments, or both. There are 10 requests from school districts for property tax increases for sinking funds, which can raise money for school infrastructure.

The largest of the 28 school bond proposals are centered in some of the state’s wealthier school districts:

Farmington schools (two proposals, one for $154.6 million in general infrastructure and the other $31.6 million for a performing arts center, technology and athletics facilities);

  • Troy schools ($125 million);
  • Dearborn schools ($76 million);
  • Walled Lake schools ($67.5 million);
  • Spring Lake schools ($59.8 million);
  • Wyoming schools (two separate proposals, one for $37 million for infrastructure and one for $12.2 million for a performing arts center and athletic facilities);
  • Forest Hills schools ($45 million infrastructure bond);
  • Grand Blanc schools ($36.1 million);
  • Traverse City schools ($35.2 million for general infrastructure and a second $12 million proposal for the high school auditorium); and
  • Columbia schools ($26.6 million).

There are another 37 proposals to renew school operating millages or sinking funds, which typically win approval with ease. Another nine districts are seeking to restore their general operating millage back to levels before Headlee Amendment-mandated reductions took place.

The 25 property tax increase requests for roads come at a time when proposals at the state level to raise revenues for roads substantially have stalled in the Legislature. Some of the local proposals would allow the money to be spent on other purposes like sidewalks or trails.

The communities seeking property tax hikes for roads (mostly in millage increases, but in a few cases through bond sales): Benzie County, Sheridan Township in Calhoun County, Newburg and Volinia townships in Cass County, Billings and Bourret townships in Gladwin County, Ironwood, Grand Traverse County, Burleigh Township in Iosco County, Genoa Township in Livingston County, St. Ignace, New Baltimore, Belknap Township in Presque Isle County, Doyle Township in Schoolcraft County, Shiawassee Township in Shiawassee County, Lincoln Park, St. Johns, Caseville, Brighton, Sterling Heights, Huntington Woods, Gaylord, Owosso, Gibraltar, Woodhaven.

There are another 34 local government property tax increase requests for other purposes, everything from recreation to libraries to general operations. There are 28 requests for voters to renew existing local government millages.

Other measures of note:

The proposed merger of the cities of Saugatuck and Douglas. The last successful merger of two or more Michigan municipalities was in 2000 when Iron River, Mineral Hills and Stambaugh merged into a city with the name Iron River.

Whitehall voters will decide on a charter amendment to repeal term limits for the city council.

The establishment of local income taxes in Benton Harbor and Charlotte.

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