Stories indexed with the term ‘property tax’

Ann Arbor Eyes Edwards Brothers Land

Ann Arbor city administrator Steve Powers and city attorney Stephen Postema have been directed to gather information to help the city council determine whether to purchase the 16.7-acre Edwards Brothers Malloy property on South State Street.

The direction came after the city council met in a closed session for about half an hour during its Jan. 6, 2014 meeting, and then emerged to pass the resolution. [amended Edwards Brothers resolution on Jan. 6, 2014]

The resolution provides direction to explore options to make the purchase financially feasible. That means finding a way to finance a $12.8 million deal. The sale of the Edwards Brothers property on South State Street is currently pending to the University of Michigan for $12.8 million, in a deal that was … [Full Story]

Board Accepts County Apportionment Report

At its Dec. 7, 2011 meeting, the Washtenaw County board of commissioners voted to accept the county’s apportionment report, which gives details of the 2011 taxable valuations for property in the county, by municipality. The report also includes the amount of millages levied and the dollar amounts collected in taxes. December tax bills have already been mailed out to property owners, based on these calculations.

Every April, the county’s equalization department produces an annual report describing Washtenaw County’s total equalized (assessed) value of property. The report – part of the state-mandated equalization process – gives an indication of how much revenue the county will receive from property taxes in the coming year. [See Chronicle coverage: "Washtenaw County's Taxable Value Falls"]

In … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor District Library Gets Clean Audit

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (Nov. 15, 2010): Two financial issues drew much of the focus at Monday’s AADL board meeting.

Dave Fisher

Dave Fisher of the accounting firm Rehmann Robson delivered highlights of the Ann Arbor District Library's financial audit at the AADL board's Nov. 15 meeting. (Photo by the writer.)

Dave Fisher of the accounting firm Rehmann Robson was on hand to review the district’s financial audit for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2010. He described the library as in solid financial shape, especially in relationship to other entities in Michigan that rely on property tax revenues. The library has no long-term debt and its fund balance is strong, he said. But he added a cautionary note that like other taxpayer-funded entities, the library would likely be grappling with a continued drop in property tax revenues in future years.

Property tax revenues emerged again in a discussion during the director’s report. AADL director Josie Parker drew attention to a Nov. 15 column published in The Ann Arbor Chronicle regarding the ongoing negotiations between the city of Ann Arbor and the Downtown Development Authority. The column pointed out an issue that Parker has been tracking as well: the potential for tax increment financing funds captured by the DDA from public entities, including the AADL, to be used to offset a parking fund deficit caused by striking a new parking deal with the city. The board ultimately passed a resolution at Monday’s meeting, directing Parker to seek legal counsel on the issue.

Board member Ed Surovell said he wanted to make sure the board was defending their right to collect taxes, and that they’re being as responsible as possible to the citizens of the district. “I think this is dead serious business,” he said. “The appropriation and misappropriation of tax revenues is the lifeblood not just of this library, but of a democracy.”

Also during her director’s report, Parker described the results of a site review by staff of the Michigan Commission for the Blind, which manages the federal program that the Washtenaw Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled @ AADL is part of. The review, conducted every two years, is the first one since the AADL took over management of the WLBPD from the county, a transition that occurred in early 2009. AADL received several commendations for its approach to providing WLBPD services.

At the end of the meeting, outgoing board member Carola Stearns – who lost her seat in the Nov. 2 election to challenger Nancy Kaplan – gave a poignant speech, thanking the library staff and her colleagues on the board. In connection with a possible downtown building project, she urged the board to explore alternative funding sources, beyond paying for the project solely with taxpayer funds. [Full Story]

City Income Tax: Maybe Later


The city of Ann Arbor's CFO, Tom Crawford, prepares his laptop to make projections – which were blue, in both senses. (Photo by the writer.)

Ann Arbor City Council work session (Aug. 13, 2009): Towards the end of the city council’s Thursday evening work session on a possible city income tax, city administrator Roger Fraser asked the council for some direction. Here’s what he wanted to know: Should city staff place an item on the council’s Aug. 17 agenda that would allow the council to put the tax before the voters in November?

In response to Fraser, Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) said she wanted more dialogue on the exact percentage of the tax to be levied, even if the ballot language specified “up to 1%.” Carsten Hohnke (Ward 5) followed by saying it was clear that his colleague, Sandi Smith (Ward 1) had requested additional case-study scenarios for individuals and that he himself had wanted some cross-checking of commuter numbers with the city’s transportation staff. “We don’t do the community any favors by taking the conversation to the next level without more information,” Hohnke said. Sabra Briere (Ward 1) then advised that she thought an emotional reaction could be addressed, if people first became more knowledgeable – she herself had had problems correctly interpreting the charts in the city income tax study.

Finally, Tony Derezinski (Ward 2) declared, “Let’s cut to the chase. I think there’s a consensus we should not have it before us on Monday.” And no one disagreed with him.

Barring surprise, then, the Aug. 17 council meeting will end without the council authorizing the placement of a city income tax on the November ballot. That will be the last opportunity council has to make such a decision. It’s therefore almost certain that the ballot in November will not include a question on a city income tax for Ann Arbor. Based on council discussion during the work session, a city income tax will, however, eventually be given serious consideration as a May 2010 ballot issue.

In light of the prospect of a May 2010 ballot question, it’s worth noting the kinds of issues councilmembers raised with Fraser and the city’s CFO, Tom Crawford. We’ve also folded into this report an account of a recent meeting sponsored by the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce about the proposed tax. [Full Story]

In the Business Improvement Zone

Ideas generated from a recent meeting of businesses in the Main Street area

A sampling of the questions and ideas generated from a recent meeting of Main Street businesses, who gathered to discuss the concept of a Business Improvement Zone for that area. (Photo by the writer.)

About a dozen business owners, managers and others from the Main Street area gathered last Thursday morning at Conor O’Neill’s to talk about an idea being floated for that district – a self-taxing entity called a business improvement zone, or BIZ. It’s a way to pay for services – things like snow or litter removal, or flowerbeds – to make the district more attractive and bring more shoppers downtown.

This isn’t the first time we’ve encountered the Main Street BIZ. In April, the Downtown Development Authority awarded $83,270 to the group – spearheaded by Ellie Serras and Ed Shaffran – to help get it going. Since then, Main Street BIZ has hired a consultant – Betsy Jackson of The Urban Agenda – and is holding meetings with stakeholders to pitch the idea and get feedback.

That’s what was happening on Thursday. The meeting was one of three planned so far: Earlier in the week, organizers met with property owners of buildings along a three-block stretch of Main Street, where the district is proposed. And on Tuesday, June 30, they’ve scheduled a similar presentation for residents and others who patronize Main Street area businesses. That meeting starts at 6 p.m., also at Conor O’Neill’s. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Reaches Tax Settlement with Pfizer

Local governments are one step closer to knowing the impact of a tax appeal that Pfizer is pursuing – and while the news isn’t great, it could have been worse.

Last year, Pfizer contested the assessed value that the city of Ann Arbor set for the drugmaker’s former research campus here. Pfizer, which closed its massive local R&D operation last year, argued that its Ann Arbor properties should be given a dramatically lower assessment – less than half of the value assigned by the city for 2008 and 2009.

A settlement reached earlier this month between Pfizer and the city of Ann Arbor is a compromise that’s now being reviewed by the Michigan Tax Tribunal. It lowers Pfizer’s assessment for 2008 and 2009, but not by as much as Pfizer requested. If approved, it will represent a total loss of roughly $10 million in tax revenues over the tw0-year period for all local entities that received taxes from Pfizer, including the city, Washtenaw County, Ann Arbor Public Schools, Washtenaw Community College and the Ann Arbor District Library. The tribunal is expected to make a ruling in the next few weeks, and is expected to approve the deal. [Full Story]

Lower My Property Assessment, Please

This temporary sign on the permanent Community Television Network sign is guiding hundreds of residents to the Board of Review.

A temporary sign taped to the permanent Community Television Network sign was guiding hundreds of residents to the Board of Review, which met last week at CTN's offices on South Industrial. More meetings are set for early next week.

One Ann Arbor resident had just refinanced in January, and politely told the city Board of Review she was “shocked” when she got her assessment in the mail this month – the city had valued her home far higher than had the appraiser, and she didn’t think that was fair. She handed the three board members a copy of the appraisal.

It didn’t take much more to convince them to lower her assessed value. “You did it!” board member Doris Preston told her.

“Really?” she said, looking startled. [Full Story]

Library Board: 15-Minute Meeting

Ann Arbor District Library Board (Feb. 16, 2009): With three trustees absent and little discussion on items in a thin agenda, Monday evening’s Ann Arbor District Library board meeting was an exercise in brevity. As is its custom, the board met in executive session an hour prior to the public portion of the meeting. The public meeting lasted 15 minutes, with financial issues touched on in several ways. [Full Story]

UM Purchases Pfizer Site

Details are scant, but UM has scheduled a major announcement to be made at this afternoon’s regents meeting: UM will purchase the former Pfizer site.

Reaction to the news from Ward 5 councilmember Carsten Hohnke was unambiguous: “The impact of removing $1.5 million from our tax rolls can not be overstated. I’m extremely disappointed that the University could not find a way to be a more creative and equitable partner with the city in this.”