County Millage Rate Gets Final OK

At their June, 2012 meeting, Washtenaw County commissioners gave final approval to set the 2012 county general operating millage rate at 4.5493 mills – unchanged from the current rate. A public hearing on the millage rates drew one person, Thomas Partridge, who called on the board to review the current millage rates in light of overwhelming need for increased services. He urged commissioners to find ways to increase revenues to address these needs.

Several other county millages are levied separately: emergency communications (0.2000 mills), the Huron Clinton Metroparks Authority (0.2146 mills), two for county parks and recreation (0.2353 mills and 0.236 mills) and for the natural areas preservation program (0.2409 mills). That brings the total county millage rate to 5.6768 mills, a rate that’s also unchanged from 2011.

This is an annual procedural action, and not a vote to levy new taxes. With a few minor exceptions, the county board does not have authority to levy taxes independently. Millage increases, new millages or an action to reset a millage at its original rate (known as a Headlee override) would require voter approval.

Initial approval had been given at the county board’s May 16, 2012 meeting. At that meeting, commissioner Wes Prater expressed concern that the county parks & recreation department was building up a fund balance that is higher than necessary, and suggested that perhaps the entire millage for parks & rec did not need to be levied. Several commissioners defended the use of millage proceeds, noting that several large capital projects are on the horizon, including a possible recreation center in downtown Ypsilanti.

This brief was filed from the boardroom of the county administration building, 220 N. Main in Ann Arbor. A more detailed report will follow: [link]