TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – All across the state of Michigan on primary day, millages received the the nod of approval from voters.
Millages and proposals popped up on ballots in townships, cities and counties statewide asking for money for various things including 911 operations, school operations, roads, police, emergency services, community and
senior centers, jail operations, veterans, parks, libraries, recycling, special education, transportation and more. These millages came in the form of new millages and also renewals.
Historically speaking, according to an article from Bridge Michigan, millages usually do well in Michigan. In 2021, 90% of the millages passed in Michigan’s 83 counties. There were 724 in all.
A millage rate is the rate at which taxes are levied on property. A mill is 1/1000 of a dollar. Millage rates are computed by multiplying the taxable value of the property by the number of mills levied.
What that means to Michigan homeowners is that if you own a house that has a tax assessed value of $100,000 and the mill rate is 0.9975, then you would be paying $99.75 a year for that particular millage.
In Benzie, Kalkaska and Ingham counties, they all passed animal control millages. In Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, they passed a millage to expand local public transit service. In Kent County, voters passed a senior millage renewal. Voters in Genessee county approved a parks millage renewal. And the list goes on.
However, one millage that went down in flames was in Jamestown Township where voters weren’t happy with the library’s position to offer an LGBTQ-themed graphic novel at the library. The book depicted detailed same-sex relationships including illustrations of sex acts. The millage for the Patmos Library was rejected by a 25-point margin, 62% to 37%, while the voters approved other millages for the fire department and road
While most Michigan voters seem to approve local millage funding, they can be comfortable knowing that there are limits in place on the amount of taxation that can be required of them and it’s called the Headlee Amendment.
The Headlee Amendment was approved in 1978 by voters and added to Michigan’s Constitution to establish taxation limitations by state and local governments. The “Headlee maximum allowable millage” are the mills available to be levied upon us by a unit of local government.
In addition to the Headlee Amendment, voters should also be aware of how some of the money collected from millages is taken out for other unrelated activities. A little known financing mechanism that occurs with many millages that most people aren’t aware of is the siphoning off of millage money that gets sent to Downtown Development Authorities in their communities.
These authorities are allowed to finance their operations through our millages. They can do this because of a state law, the DDA Act, through something called a capture. They can “capture” property taxes for economic development projects, otherwise known as Tax Increment Financing (TIF). It captures year-to-year growth in property values on an annual basis. The money can be used for projects such as streetscapes, street lighting, parks, flood wall protections, historic preservation, marketing or any number of things.
According to the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, this money can be collected from county taxes, school taxes, community college district taxes, and taxes levied for libraries and parks. The wording for this funding can be found in the last paragraph of the millage language on your ballot.