DDA to County: Levy Econ Dev Tax

At its Sept. 7, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board passed a resolution urging the Washtenaw County board of commissioners to use Act 88 of 1913 to levy a tax to support economic development in the county. A public hearing on the tax is scheduled for the county board’s meeting tonight.

At its Aug. 15 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council passed a similar measure urging county commissioners to levy the tax.

For the last two years, the county board has levied the tax – at a rate of 0.043 mill. (One mill is $1 for every $1,000 of a property’s taxable value.) Because Act 88 predates the state’s Headlee legislation, the county board does not need to put the issue before voters in order to levy the tax. The county board could, by the Act 88 statute, levy such a tax up to 0.5 mills, or more than 10 times the amount it has chosen to levy the last two years.

In November 2010, the county board approved the Act 88 tax with just a six-vote majority on the 11-member board. Kristin Judge, Mark Ouimet and Wes Prater dissented. Jessica Ping abstained, and Rolland Sizemore Jr. was absent from that Nov. 3, 2010 meeting.

For 2011, the allocation of the roughly $611,266 raised by the countywide Act 88 tax broke down as follows: $200,000 to Ann Arbor SPARK; $50,000 to SPARK East; $100,000 to the Eastern Leaders Group; $144,696 to the county’s department of economic development and energy; $15,000 to fund a Michigan State University Extension agricultural innovation counselor for Washtenaw County; $27,075 to fund horticulture programming for the Washtenaw MSUE horticulture educator; $59,229 for 4-H activities, including allocation to the Washtenaw Farm Council for operating the Washtenaw County 4-H Youth Show & 4-H agricultural programming for the 4-H extension educator; and $15,000 to support the work of the Food System Economic Partnership (FSEP).

This brief was filed from the DDA offices at 150 S. Fifth Avenue, where the board holds its meetings. A more detailed report will follow: [link]