County Millage Hearings Set for July 9

Public hearings are set for July 9, 2014 to get input on two millages that Washtenaw county levies without voter approval: (1) for support of indigent veterans and their families; and (2) to fund economic development and agricultural activities. The action to set the hearings took place at the June 4 meeting of the county board of commissioners.

No increase is proposed for the economic development millage, levied under Act 88. The proposal is to levy 0.07 mills in December 2014, raising an estimated $1,022,276 in property tax revenues. In previous years, the resolution setting this millage has outlined how the revenues would be allocated. The largest allocations have gone to the county’s office of community & economic development, and to the nonprofit Ann Arbor SPARK.

However, at its Nov. 6, 2013 meeting, the board adopted a new policy for allocating Act 88 revenues, drafted by Conan Smith (D-District 9). [.pdf of Act 88 policy] The policy included creating an Act 88 advisory committee to make recommendations to the board and prepare an annual report that assesses how Act 88 expenditures have contributed toward progress of goals adopted by the board. The policy allows the committee to distribute up to 10% of annual Act 88 revenues without seeking board approval. The policy also allocates up to 30% of revenues to the county office of community & economic development, which administers Act 88 funding.

For support of indigent veterans, the county is authorized to collect up to 1/10th of a mill without seeking voter approval. That’s because the state legislation that enables the county to levy this type of tax –  the Veterans Relief Fund Act, Public Act 214 of 1899  – predates the state’s Headlee Amendment. The county first began levying this millage in 2008, and collects the tax in December. Services are administered through the county’s department of  veterans affairs.

Since 2008, the county board has slightly increased the rate that it levies each year. In 2012, the rate was 0.0286 mills – or 1/35th of a mill. It was raised to a rate of 1/30th of a mill in December 2013, to fund services in 2014.

The current proposal is to levy 1/27th of a mill in December 2014, which is expected to raise about $540,887 in revenues for use in 2015.

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