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2013 tax rates OK'd by board

Brandon Twp. police, fire, operating taxes unchanged; library debt decreases

September 04, 2013 - Brandon Twp.- The township board is doing their best to keep taxes down.

At their Sept. 3 meeting, the board unanimously approved 2013 tax rates that are mostly unchanged from last year, with the exception of the library debt millage— which actually decreased.

The library debt millage will go from .74 mills to .70 mills, thanks to property values that are slowly increasing and a lower interest rate from rebonding the library debt a few years ago.

"I am encouraged that the millage rate dropped slightly for the library debt," said Supervisor Kathy Thurman, who adds that the library debt should be paid off by 2018.

Other approved rates include 1 mill for general operations; 3.2983 mills for fire operations; .8922 mills for fire equipment and housing; and 3.5286 mills for police operations. All of these millages are below what voters originally approved, due to the Headlee Amendment, which requires local governments to roll back millages when annual property tax revenue is greater than the rate of inflation.

That is good news for taxpayers, but it may be overlooked next year when tax bills arrive and residents of the Brandon School District see their school bond taxes leap from 8.24 mills to 13 mills. School district officials are being required by state law to provide a plan to repay money borrowed from the School Bond Loan Fund within six years of the bond being paid off. In Brandon, a $73 million bond approved by voters in 2006 is due to be paid off in 2026, requiring state loans to be paid off by 2032. The district has been borrowing money to make annual bond payments every year since taking out the bond, due to the fall in property tax revenues. To date, the district has borrowed nearly $40 million to meet the annual payments.

Thurman is disappointed in the planned school tax increase and reiterated the township board does not have any influence over decisions made by the school board in regard to millage rates.

However, while the school district will impose the higher taxes without needing the approval of voters, residents can anticipate a police millage renewal request on their ballots next year.

The police millages expire Dec. 31.

"If we want to continue to have police services, we need to have something passed next year," Thurman said.

"We will be discussing it soon. At a minimum, we have to renew to 3.5286... We are anticipating the millage request will be a 5-year term."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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