Stories indexed with the term ‘Act 88 milllage’

Board Gets Advice from County Electeds

Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (June 4, 2014): The board’s meeting featured a discussion of how to allocate a budget surplus – prompted by recommendations from the five countywide “electeds.” The elected officials hope to partner with the county board as it sets priorities for the $3.9 million surplus from 2013. The county’s fiscal year is the same as the calendar year.

Kent Martinez-Kratz, Bob Tetens, Catherine McClary, Brian Mackie, Washtenaw County, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

From left: Commissioner Kent Martinez-Kratz (D-District 1); Bob Tetens, director of parks & recreation; county prosecuting attorney Brian Mackie; and county treasurer Catherine McClary. (Photos by the writer.)

The board, comprised of elected officials representing nine districts, is responsible for budget decisions. The five positions that are elected by voters countywide – the sheriff, prosecuting attorney, treasurer, clerk/register of deeds and water resources commissioner – head up county departments but must have their budgets approved by the board.

The board is developing a process that will guide budget decisions regarding how to manage budget surpluses or shortfalls, including $3.9 million surplus from 2013 and about $600,000 in higher-than-budgeted property tax revenues in 2014. The county administrator, Verna McDaniel, is recommending that the $3.9 million be kept as general fund reserves. Some county commissioners would rather spend at least a portion of the surplus.

The recommendation from the electeds is to allocate a to-be-determined percentage of any surplus to these five areas: (1) unfunded liabilities for the pension fund; (2) unfunded liabilities for the retiree health care fund; (3) the county’s housing fund, which was eliminated in 2012; (4) the delinquent tax fund reserves, specifically for internal advances on county projects to save bonding costs; and (5) the capital reserve fund or unearmarked reserve fund.

Commissioners made no decision on these recommendations, other than to thank the electeds for their input.

In other budget-related action, the board gave final approval to put a 10-year parks & recreation millage renewal on the Nov. 4, 2014 ballot. Commissioners also set public hearings for two millages that are levied annually in December without voter approval – for support of indigent veterans and their families; and to fund economic development and agricultural activities. Those hearings, to solicit public input, will be held at the board’s July 9 meeting.

The board also gave final approval to set the county’s general operating millage rate at 4.5493 mills – unchanged from the current rate. This is an annual process that includes a public hearing, which was also held on June 4. One person spoke.

A final vote was also taken to create a new committee that will explore funding options for road repair. This follows the board’s rejection – at its meeting on May 21, 2014 – of a proposal to levy a countywide tax for this purpose. No committee members have been appointed yet.

The board was also briefed on work by the community corrections unit, which is part of the sheriff’s department. It provides services that include jail diversion and alternative sentencing options to the Washtenaw County Trial Court, pre-trial services, drug testing, and electronic monitoring. The use of electronic monitoring has increased dramatically, from an average number of cases between 25-30 at any given time in FY 2012-2013, to between 85-115 cases in FY 2013-14.

During public commentary, commissioners heard from David Schonberger, an Ann Arbor resident who thanked the board for passing a resolution last month to oppose oil exploration and drilling in the county. He urged them to use it as a starting point for more action. Specifically, he advocated that the board fund a robust public education campaign and establish an advisory committee to work with Scio Township and the city of Ann Arbor on this issue. [Full Story]

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 … [Full Story]

County OKs Economic Development Tax, Policy

Two actions related to a tax to support economic development and agriculture were taken at the Nov. 6, 2013 meeting of the Washtenaw County board of commissioners. During public commentary, the board also heard from two people who objected to the tax levy, including Bill McMaster of Taxpayers United.

On a 7-1 vote, the board gave final approval to an increase in the levy of the economic development and agricultural tax, known as Act 88 of 1913. The increase to the Act 88 millage is from 0.06 mills to 0.07 mills. Dan Smith (R-District 2) dissented and Rolland Sizemore Jr. (D-District 5) had left the meeting by the time the vote occurred, just after midnight.

The millage will be levied … [Full Story]

County Board Sets 4 Public Hearings

Washtenaw County commissioners set four public hearings for Oct. 16 to get input on items they’ll be considering at upcoming meetings. The action took place at the county board’s Oct. 2, 2013 session.

Three of the hearings that will take place on Oct. 16 relate to:

  • An increase to the Act 88 millage from 0.06 mills to 0.07 mills. The millage would be levied in December 2013 and would raise an estimated $972,635.
  • The proposed 2014-2017 budget, which was presented by county administrator Verna McDaniel on Oct. 2. The board is required to approve the $103 million general fund budget for 2014 by the end of this year. [.pdf of draft 2014-2017 budget]
  • A proposed ordinance that would allow the county to issue … [Full Story]

County Acts on Micro Loan Program

A countywide micro loan program for small businesses was given initial approval at the Sept. 4, 2013 meeting of Washtenaw County board of commissioners. The resolution, which will likely receive a final vote on Sept. 18, would authorize the county’s office of community & economic development to contract with the Center for Empowerment and Economic Development to manage this program. CEED already handles a smaller micro loan program focused on the eastern side of the county. [.pdf of CEED micro loan proposal]

Dan Smith (R-District 2) cast the sole vote of dissent against this program, saying he objected to using taxpayer dollars for a program where funds are allocated without the opportunity for input at public meetings.

Micro loans would … [Full Story]

County Increases Tax for Economic Development

After holding a public hearing on a tax increase to support agriculture and economic development, the Washtenaw County board of commissioners authorized the Act 88 tax at a rate of 0.06 mills, an increase from the current 0.05 mills.

The action occurred at the board’s Oct. 3, 2012 meeting. The vote on an amendment to increase the tax rate passed 6 to 5, with dissent from Ronnie Peterson, Alicia Ping, Wes Prater, Dan Smith and Rob Turner. The vote to levy the tax passed 8-3, with Ronnie Peterson, Wes Prater and Dan Smith voting against it.

The board was on track to approve the tax last month at the 0.05 mill rate. But after a public hearing, board chair Conan Smith proposed an … [Full Story]

County Board Puts Off Vote on Act 88 Tax Hike

Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (Sept. 19, 2012): After passing a tax increase to support services for indigent veterans, county commissioners debated and ultimately postponed action on increasing a tax for agriculture and economic development – also known as the Act 88 millage.

Veterans attending the Sept. 19, 2012 county board meeting saluted during the Pledge of Allegiance.

Veterans attending the Sept. 19, 2012 Washtenaw County board meeting saluted the American flag during the Pledge of Allegiance.

The indigent veterans tax was uncontroversial. Several Vietnam veterans attended the meeting and spoke passionately about the need to support soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The tax was increased to 0.0286 mills, to be levied in December 2012. The current 0.025 mills brought in $344,486 in 2012. The increased millage is expected to raise $390,340 in revenues for use during 2013.

But a proposal by Conan Smith to increase the Act 88 millage generated debate, primarily related to procedural issues. On Sept. 5, commissioners had given initial approval to a tax of 0.05 mills, unchanged from the current rate. At the time, Smith raised the possibility of an increase to 0.06 mills and a change in the way the millage revenues are administered, but he made no formal amendment. The board set a Sept. 19 public hearing for the 0.05 mills, and several representatives from groups that receive revenue proceeds spoke in favor of the tax.

Later in the meeting – after the public hearing – Smith made a formal motion to amend the resolution, raising the tax rate to 0.06 mills, a 20% increase that would bring in $838,578. Ronnie Peterson objected to the process, saying that although it might be legal, but was not moral. Wes Prater said the move lacked integrity. Smith argued that the law didn’t require any public hearing at all, and that the board was going above and beyond its obligations. He pointed out that he had notified commissioners of his intent on Sept. 5, and had passed out a memo about his proposal at the Sept. 6 working session. [See Chronicle coverage: "County Tax Hike for Economic Development?"]

Ultimately, a majority of commissioners voted to postpone action on Smith’s amendment until Oct. 3, when they also voted to set a second public hearing on the 0.06 mills proposal.

Also generating considerable debate was a resolution related to animal control services. The resolution, brought forward by Barbara Bergman, directs county administrator Verna McDaniel to begin negotiations with the Humane Society of Huron Valley toward a new contract for services. It further states that if McDaniel doesn’t believe sufficient progress is being made by Oct. 30, then she’s authorized to issue a request for proposals (RFP) to seek bids from other organizations. It passed on a 10-to-1 vote, with dissent from Alicia Ping.

Much of the debate over the second resolution centered on the fact that formal recommendations from the tasks force haven’t yet been presented to the board. There were also questions over how much flexibility McDaniel will have in her negotiations. The current 2013 budget has allocated $250,000 for animal control services. This year, the county is paying $415,000 to HSHV, down from $500,000 in 2011. Commissioners expect that the final amount negotiated for 2013 will be higher than the budgeted $250,000 – and if that’s the case, the board will need to amend the budget.

Ping objected to the process, saying that it could undercut HSHV’s position if the board eventually decides to issue an RFP, because other bidders would know how much HSHV is willing to bid. She also objected to taking action without knowing the task force recommendations. “This whole process is flawed on its face,” she said.

The board took a range of other actions, including changes to an ordinance for the county’s natural areas preservation program. Commissioners eliminated a previous restriction that only 7% of millage funds could be used for management or stewardship. In addition, they approved an amendment by Conan Smith eliminating a separate requirement for allocating 75% of the millage to the acquisition and maintenance of natural areas and 25% for agricultural land. Now, allocations can be made at the discretion of the county parks and recreation commission.

Commissioners approved a variety of state grant applications and reimbursements, as well as the 2012-2013 budget for its community support & treatment services (CSTS) department. Three resolutions of appreciation were also presented during the meeting – to Rodney Stokes, former director of the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources; Susan Sweet Scott, a long-time county employee; and the Ann Arbor alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority for 50 years of service in Washtenaw County. [Full Story]

Econ Development Tax Increase Postponed

The handling of a proposal to increase a tax for economic/agricultural development drew criticism from some Washtenaw County commissioners, ultimately leading to a postponement of the item that was discussed at the county board meeting on Sept. 19, 2012.

The millage for economic development and agriculture is authorized under the state’s Act 88, and has been levied by the board since 2009. That year, it was levied at 0.04 mills. It was raised to 0.043 in 2010 and 0.05 in 2011. Because the Michigan statute that authorizes this millage predates the state’s Headlee Amendment, the board can levy it without a voter referendum.

On Sept. 5, it had been given initial approval by commissioners on a 7-to-3 vote, with dissent from Alicia … [Full Story]

Veterans, Act 88 Millages Get Initial OK

Two taxes – for indigent veterans services and economic/agricultural development – were given initial approval at the Sept. 5, 2012 meeting of the Washtenaw County board of commissioners. Because the Michigan statutes that authorize these millages predate the state’s Headlee Amendment, they can be approved by the board without a voter referendum. Final votes and public hearings on these millages are set for the board’s Sept. 19 meeting.

The tax to support services for indigent veterans was increased to 0.0286 mills, to be levied in December 2012. The vote was unanimous. The millage is expected to raise $390,340 in revenues for use during 2013. The current 0.025 mills brought in $344,486 in 2012.

According to a staff memo, the increase is needed because … [Full Story]

County OKs Taxes for Econ Dev, Veterans

At its Sept. 21, 2011 meeting, the Washtenaw County board of commissioners gave final approval to levy two taxes in December 2011: (1) 0.05 mills for support of economic development and agriculture; and (2) 0.025 mills to pay for services for indigent veterans. Because the Michigan statutes that authorize these millages predate the state’s Headlee Amendment, they can be approved by the board without a voter referendum. Initial approval and public hearings on these millages occurred at the board’s Sept. 7 meeting.

The indigent veterans millage was passed with dissent from Alicia Ping. It will cost homeowners about $2.50 for every $100,000 of a home’s taxable value. It’s expected to raise $344,486 – about $11,000 less than in 2010, due to projected … [Full Story]

County Board Acts on Labor, Budget Issues

Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (Sept. 7, 2011): Coming off their pared-back summer schedule, county commissioners faced a heavy agenda at their first meeting in September, with several items related to budget and labor issues.

Andy LaBarre, Rob Turner, Barbara Bergman

At left: Andy LaBarre talks with county commissioners Rob Turner (R-District 1) and Barbara Bergman (D-District 8). Bergman is not planning to run for re-election in 2012, and LaBarre is expected to be a candidate in her district, which is being reconfigured as part of a countywide redistricting set earlier this year and implemented for the 2012 elections. LaBarre, a former aide to U.S. Rep. John Dingell, attended Wednesday's meeting in his role as vice president at the Ann Arbor Ypsilanti Regional Chamber of Commerce, to support the proposed economic development tax.

After an executive session early in the meeting, the board approved a contract with the Michigan Nurses Association-Unit II, representing two county employees. It’s the second of 15 union agreements being negotiated as part of the 2012 and 2013 budget cycle, with the hopes of securing about $8 million in concessions over the two-year period.

Throughout the evening, hallway conversations took place among various county administrators who were involved in labor talks that same night. And later in the meeting, the board voted to set a special meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 4 p.m. to discuss proposed labor agreements. It was expected that additional deals would be announced at that time.

One of those deals was confirmed on Monday, Sept. 12, by county administrator Verna McDaniel. She reported that the county’s largest union – AFSCME Local 2733, representing 644 employees – has ratified a new contract that will coming to the board for approval on Tuesday.

Commissioners dealt with a range of other budget-related items at last week’s meeting. They gave initial approval to budgets for the public health and CSTS (community support & treatment services) departments, which include about a dozen job cuts and a raft of new and increased fees. And two taxes – to support services for indigent veterans, and for economic development and agriculture – received initial approval from the board. Nine people spoke during public commentary and a public hearing on the economic development tax, all urging the board to support it. However, three of the 10 commissioners present voted against it. Final votes on both millages will be taken at the board’s Sept. 21 meeting.

An item that drew the most discussion among commissioners was a resolution to suspend the county’s use of Construction Unity Board (CUB) agreements, pending the outcome of litigation that’s challenging the validity of the state’s Public Act 98. The resolution passed, but with four commissioners dissenting. The dissent came from two differing perspectives, however. Two Republican commissioners – Dan Smith and Alicia Ping – objected to an amendment that affirmed the value of these agreements. Two Democratic commissioners – Kristin Judge and Conan Smith – voted against suspension because they wanted to keep the CUB agreements in place. A final vote on that issue will occur on Sept. 21.

Commissioners dispatched with several other agenda items, giving initial approval to: (1) appoint Jeffrey Jentzen as the new medical examiner; (2) authorize the issuance of $2.7 million in bonds to help pay for a $3.2 million facility operated by the Western Washtenaw Recycling Authority; and (3) amend a contract regarding the distribution of the county’s accommodation tax.

Several items were also brought up as communications from commissioners and the administration. Among them, commissioner Rob Turner gave an update on the situation in Sylvan Township, which has been struggling with $12.5 million in bonds issued to build a water and wastewater treatment plant intended to serve future development. It’s expected that the township won’t be able to make its May 2012 bond payment. Township officials are putting a millage proposal on the November 2011 ballot to raise funds to repay the county, which will be asked to cover the future bond payments. Information forums for township residents are planned for later this month and early October. [Full Story]

County Tax for Econ Dev Gets Initial Approval

On a 7-3 vote, Washtenaw County commissioners gave initial approval to authorize the levy of 0.05 mills in December 2011 for support of economic development and agriculture. The vote was taken at their Sept. 7, 2011 meeting and will be followed by a final vote on Sept. 21. Voting against the millage were Alicia Ping, Wes Prater and Dan Smith. Ronnie Peterson was absent.

The anticipated $688,913 in millage proceeds will be allocated to several local entities: Ann Arbor SPARK ($230,000), SPARK East ($50,000), the county’s dept. of community & economic development ($131,149), Eastern Leaders Group ($100,000), promotion of heritage tourism ($65,264), Food System Economic Partnership (FSEP – $15,000), Washtenaw 4-H ($82,500) and Washtenaw County 4-H Youth Show ($15,000).

The millage – … [Full Story]

Washtenaw County Board Gets Budget Update

Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (Aug. 3, 2011): A second-quarter budget update and final approval of a major multi-department consolidation were highlights of Wednesday’s meeting.

Dan Smith, Verna McDaniel

Washtenaw County commissioner Dan Smith (R-District 2) and county administrator Verna McDaniel. Smith is vice chair of the board’s ways & means committee, and led the meeting in the absence of the committee chair, Rolland Sizemore Jr. (D-District 5). (Photos by the writer.)

The budget update showed the impact of higher-than-anticipated property tax revenues, which had first been announced in April. Because of higher revenues than originally projected, the county now expects to use only $2.9 million from its fund balance during 2011 – previously, the budget called for drawing $5.3 million from the fund balance to cover a shortfall between revenues and expenditures.

Without the $2.9 million transfer from the fund balance, however, there would be a projected $2.5 million deficit for the year, on a general fund budget of roughly $100 million. Among several shortfalls on the expenditure side, about $1.034 million in anticipated non-departmental lump sum reductions have not materialized.

Expenses for attorney fees are higher than budgeted, but the county’s corporation counsel Curtis Hedger noted that there’s at least one case that won’t be costing the county in the future. It was an allusion to the end of a 2006 lawsuit against the county over the cost of police services. Hedger later told The Chronicle that the two townships still involved in the case – Ypsilanti Township and Augusta Township – paid the county this week the nearly $750,000 recommended by a court-ordered facilitator.

There was little discussion about most of the action items that the board approved. Most notably, a final OK was given to creating a new office of community & economic development – the result of merging three county departments. The new unit, to be led by Mary Jo Callan, will employ about 31 full-time workers, compared to 40 that are now employed in the three separate departments: the office of community development (OCD); the economic development & energy department; and the employment training and community services (ETCS) department. Other jobs within the county government have been identified for all but one employee so far. The consolidation will take effect in 2012.

Commissioners also set public hearings for their Sept. 7 meeting to get input on two millages: one levied under the Veterans Relief Fund Act, and another collected under Public Act 88 to be used for economic development purposes. Because Act 88 and the veterans relief act predate the state’s Headlee Amendment, they can be approved by the board without a voter referendum.

The Act 88 millage of 0.05 mill would be an increase from the 0.043 mills currently levied. It would generate an estimated $688,913 annually. In previous years, it has been used to fund several entities, including Ann Arbor SPARK. The veterans relief millage of 1/40th of a mill does not represent an increase, and is estimated to bring in $344,486 to provide services for indigent veterans in Washtenaw County through the county’s department of veterans affairs.

Republicans Dan Smith and Alicia Ping led the back-to-back ways & means committee and regular board meetings on Wednesday – as vice chairs of those respective bodies, they were filling in for chairs Rolland Sizemore Jr. and Conan Smith. Both Democrats were out of town. [Full Story]

Public Hearings Set for County Millages

At its Aug. 3, 2011 meeting, the Washtenaw County board of commissioners scheduled three public hearings for its Sept. 7 meeting – including two related to countywide millages.

The hearings are intended to get feedback from the public on these three items: (1) a millage levied under the Veterans Relief Fund Act; (2) a millage collected under Public Act 88 to be used for economic development purposes; and (3) the use of funds from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, awarded by the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

The veterans relief millage would not exceed 1/40th of a mill, to be levied in December 2011 for use during the calendar year 2012. It’s estimated to bring in $344,486 and would be used to provide services for … [Full Story]