Countywide millages set for August 2018 election

In addition to candidate races, there are numerous ballot proposals that will go before voters in the Aug. 7 primary election.

Allegan County has three countywide proposals; so do 13 townships, three libraries and three public school districts.

Your millage costs can be calculated by dividing the taxable value of your home by 1,000 and then multiplying that by the millage rate. (taxable value is typically about half the value of the home). This would not apply for the schools’ non-homestead millages (unless, for example, your property is a vacation home and not your primary residence).

 

Allegan County

911 Operating Surcharge: This vote is to decide whether or not to extend a surcharge that shows up on all phone bills.

The surcharge, charged monthly on the bill for each device that can dial 911, funds Allegan County 911 Central Dispatch. It covers everything from maintenance on the radio system to the debt used to fund replacement hardware last year to saving up for future replacements.

Currently, voters have approved the up-to-$3 surcharge through the end of 2019. On Aug. 7, voters will be asked to extend the same maximum level through 2025. County commissioners technically set the surcharge annually, but—to pay for all the previously mentioned items—they are expected to keep it maxed out at $3.

The surcharge collects approximately $3.5 million annually from the 96,000 users who pay the fee. In 2009, it passed 10,192 to 4,635.

The ballot language says the revenue will be “used exclusively for the funding of 911 emergency telephone call answering and dispatch services within Allegan County, including facilities, equipment and operations.”

 

Road Resurfacing and Reconstruction (renewal): This longstanding millage is up for renewal, as the previous vote in 2012—which passed 9,061 to 3,881—okayed the measure through the end of last year.

If voters pass the 1-mill tax for six years, through 2023, it will raise a projected $4,454,082.35 in its first year (2018).

It will also have the effect of overriding the effects of the Headlee Amendment. The millage has been rolled back to 0.9916 mill due to the law; passing the proposal would restore the millage back to 1 mill.

 

Senior Citizen Services: Voters will also decide whether or not to pass a small increase to the millage the county uses to help seniors remain independent in their homes. Services include in-home support, home-delivered meals, adult day care, transportation and personal emergency response.

The proposed tax is set at 0.493 mills for four years through 2021. It will raise a projected $2,284,575 in its first year (2018).

The current tax is set just five-one-hundredths of a mill smaller, at 0.436 mill. The four-year tax expired at the end of last year, having been passed in 2014 by 10,061-to-4,804 vote.

The senior millage now has a 12-year history in Allegan County. It has passed with wide voter support both initially and since then. The initial vote in 2006 passed 9,271 to 4,947. In 2010, it was renewed 13,734 to 6,329.

 

Allegan District Library

Library Millage (renewal): On the ballot will be the renewal of the 0.85-mill tax for 10 years through 2029. If passed, it will raise a projected $416,000 in its first year (2020).

The current millage expires in 2019 and covers approximately 75 percent of the library’s regular operational costs. It was initially passed in 2010 by a vote of 1,752 to 1,267.

This millage is in addition to the 30-year, 0.95-mill tax passed in 2016 being used to repay a $6.5 million USDA loan that funded the expansion and improvement project currently underway.

 

Allegan Public Schools

Operating Millage: The school district is looking to partly renew its current operating millage and also increase it by 0.5 mill, both for two years.

The Headlee Amendment has rolled the current millage back to 17.9172 mills. If the proposal passes, the school district will be able to collect up to 18 mills. It is projected to raise $3,121,053 in its first year (2019).

The tax is levied against non-home properties, such as industrial, commercial and some agricultural land. A similar measure was last passed by voters in 2016, 1,488 votes to 743.

 

Allegan Township

Recycling surcharge: If passed, this proposal would charge each residence in Allegan Township $36 annually for five years, revenue that would be used to maintain or expand recycling programs. The goal is to offer curbside service, though recent and sharp increases in the costs of recycling services has dampened that effort.

Residents can currently pay a voluntary $25 annually for permission to drop off a variety of recyclables at large bins at the township hall. Township officials say this is being abused by some to throw away trash, an act that costs the township money. Another reason includes the difficulty of using the bins in poor winter weather.

If passed, the new fee would replace the old one. If it doesn’t pass, the township will still be able to collect the $25 voluntary fee.

The township’s recycling program is coordinated through Allegan County’s Resource Recovery program. If passed, the $36 surcharge would be assessed to all households, including mobile homes.

Two Road Millages (renewals): One for rebuilding roads and one for resurfacing roads, these taxes are two of the township’s three 1-mill levies that provide road funding. If renewed, each will generate a projected $129,679 in their first year (2019). The four-year taxes will expire in 2022.

Fire Equipment (renewal): If renewed, this four-year, 0.25-mill tax will raise a projected $32,374 to be used to purchase firefighting equipment such as trucks and gear.

 

Casco Township

Referendum on Short-Term Rentals: Earlier this year, the township board passed a zoning amendment permitting homeowners to rent out their property and provided a set of restrictions for those rentals.

A petition effort has placed that zoning amendment before voters to pass or deny.

The zoning amendment, among several restrictions, limits rentals to 28-day stays and places restrictions on exterior lighting; parking and fire pits.

Senior Services Millage (renewal): If renewed, this 0.25-mill tax will be levied for another four years, through 2021. It is projected to raise $55,885 in its first year (2018).

The proposal states the funds will be used “for the purpose of funding activities or services for older persons, meaning individuals over the age of 60 years.”

 

Cheshire Township

Road Improvement Millage (renewal): If renewed, this 2-mill tax will be levied for six years, through 2024. It is projected to raise $125,790 in its first year (2019).

The current millage has been rolled back by the Headlee Amendment to 1.9629 mills.

The proposal states the funds will be used for “maintaining and/or improving existing public roads.”

 

Dorr Township

Recycling surcharge: If passed, this proposal would charge each residence in Dorr Township $36 annually for five years, revenue that would be used to expand recycling programs.

Residents can currently pay a voluntary $25 annually to use recycling services coordinated through Allegan County’s Resource Recovery program. If passed, the new fee would replace the old one. If it doesn’t pass, the township will still be able to collect the $25 voluntary fee.

County officials said, if passed, the $36 surcharge would be assessed to all households, including mobile homes.

The proposal states the funds will be used “to cover operational costs of the programs and to be distributed to Allegan County to fund the collection of materials for recycling including, but not limited to, recyclable materials, household hazardous wastes, tires, batteries, and yard clippings.”

Township officials have said the money will be used to continue and expand curbside and drop-site recycling programs and that the $25 surcharge no longer covers the costs of current services.

Library Millage: If passed, this millage would be a 0.7980-mill tax for 10 years, through 2029. It would raise a projected $212,000 in its first year (2020) for “operating, maintaining and equipping the Dorr Township Library.”

Part of the increase renews the current library millage of 0.2980 mill. That was passed in 2010 by a vote of 1,325 to 1,303. (its initial rate was 0.3 mill, but that has been rolled back by the Headlee Amendment.)

The rest of the proposal amounts to a 0.5-mill increase in the library’s millage.

Park Improvement and Maintenance Millage: If passed, this new tax would be a 0.34-mill levy for five years through 2022. It will raise a projected $85,328 in its first year (2018) “provide funds for the maintenance and improvement of public parks within Dorr Township.”

Township officials said the $200,000 that had been set aside for park improvements three years ago had run out.

 

Fillmore Township

Police Protection Millage (renewal): If renewed, this 0.5-mill tax will be levied for four years through 2021. It will raise a projected $57,883 in its first year (2018) to fund police protection services.

 

Hamilton Community Schools

Operating Millage: The school district is looking to partly renew its current operating millage and also increase it by 0.1007 mill, both for two years.

The Headlee Amendment has rolled the current millage back to 18.8993 mills. If the proposal passes, the school district will be able to collect on up to 18 mills. It is projected to raise $2,930,000 in its first year (2019).

The tax is levied against non-home properties, such as industrial, commercial and some agricultural land.

 

Hopkins Township

Major Fire Equipment Replacement Millage (renewal): If renewed, this four-year, 1-mill tax will raise a projected $80,000 in its first year (2019) to be used to purchase major firefighting equipment.

 

Hopkins Public Schools

Operating Millage: The school district is looking to partly renew its current operating millage and also increase it by 1.7808 mills, both for four years through 2021.

If the proposal passes, the school district will be able to collect on up to 18 mills. It is projected to raise $703,425 in its first year (2018).

The tax is levied against non-home properties, such as industrial, commercial and some agricultural land.

 

Laketown Township

Fire, Road, Bicycle Path And Drain Millage (renewal): If renewed, this 2-mill tax will be levied for two years through 2019.

It will raise a projected $791,022 in its first year (2018) “to provide operating funds and equipment and apparatus acquisition funds for the Fire Department; to provide funds for the repair, construction, reconstruction and/or blacktopping of roads and bicycle paths in the Township; and to provide funds for the repair and maintenance of drains.”

 

Lee Township

First Responders Millage (renewal): If renewed, this 1-mill tax will be levied for six years through 2024. It will raise a projected $85,081 in its first year (2019) to fund first responder services.

 

Leighton Township

Airstrip Development Referendum: The township board approved an ordinance amendment earlier this year? that rezoned property at 675 145th Ave. “to a Planned Development allowing development of a private airplane airstrip and four home sites as requested by Galloway Landings LLC.”

A subsequent petition effort put that decision up for public vote to decide whether or not the ordinance amendment is passed.

Fire and Police Protection Services Millage: This is one of two similar proposals on the ballot. This is a new 0.5-mill tax for five years through 2023. The other is a renewal of a similar millage.

If it passes, it will raise a projected $117,846 in its first year (2019) “to provide funds for fire and police services.”

The proposal specifically states that all or some of the funds will be used to pay for a contract with the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office (“or other governmental agency”) for police services and the Leighton Township Fire Department (“or other governmental agency”) for fire protection services.

Police and Fire Services Millage (renewal): As stated above, this is a similar measure, but it is a renewal of a tax already on the books. If renewed, the 0.9834-mill tax will be levied for five years through 2023. It will raise a projected $229,942 in its first year (2019).

Road Millage: As with the fire/police millage, the township is also asking voters to weigh in on two road proposals—one new and one renewal.

The new 1-mill tax for five years through 2023 would, if passed, raise a projected $235,693 in its first year (2019) for “providing funds for public road improvement and maintenance.”

Road Millage (renewal): As stated above, this is a similar proposal, but it is a renewal of a road millage already on the books. If renewed, the 0.9834-mill tax will be levied for five years through 2023. It will raise a projected $229,942 in its first year (2019).

 

Otsego Township

Fire Operating Millage (renewal): If renewed, this five-year, 0.5-mill tax will raise a projected $86,695 in its first year (2018) to be used to fund fire department operating expenses.

Solid Waste Disposal Millage (renewal): If renewed, this five-year, 0.25-mill tax will raise a projected $43,347 in its first year (2018) to be used to fund solid waste disposal services.

 

Overisel Township

Road Reconstruction Millage (renewal): If renewed, this four-year, 2-mill tax will be levied through 2022. It will raise a projected $273,000 in its first year (2019) to be used to fund road reconstruction projects.

 

Ransom District Library

Bond Proposal: If voters approve a $6,200,000 bond, Plainwell’s Charles A. Ransom District Library would build a new library, doubling its current space.

Library officials cited a 2012 community survey that showed patrons wanted more meeting space, more de- fined quiet spaces, more room for technology and more room for library materials for borrowing.

The new library would be built in front of the same property as the current building at M-89 and Sherwood Avenue. Construction could wrap up in 2019 or 2020. The library board has saved $750,000 toward the project.

No debt millage estimate is provided in the proposal language, but library officials have estimated it would increase the average property tax bill in Gun Plain Township, the City of Plainwell and part of Cooper Township by fewer than $5 per month.

 

Saugatuck-Douglas District Library

Bond Proposal: If voters approve a $4,350,000 bond, the library will build a new, 9,000-square-foot library building to replace the current structure, built in the 1870s.

The new building, double the size of the current, will be single-story for a barrier-free space.

An approximately 0.4271-mill tax is expected to be needed to repay the debt over 25 years.

 

Valley Township

Road Improvements: This 2-mill tax, if renewed, will be levied for four years through 2022. It will raise a projected $150,088 in its first year (2019) for road improvement projects.

The ballot language does not list it as a renewal, but it is identical to the 2-mill tax that has been on the books since voters passed it 133 to 109 in August 2014. The tax was approved for four years; this is the final year of collection. If the proposal on the upcoming ballot passes, it will pick up where the old one left off.

The tax had a bit of a rocky road on the way to passage. A similar measure was put before voters in August 2010 that didn't pass 164-202. A November 2010 vote also didn't pass, by a 301-to-330 vote. In November 2012, it failed again, 351-496.

Currently, it is one of two road millages on the tax rolls for the township. The other is a 1-mill road tax last renewed in May 2017 for four years; its final collection will be billed in 2020. The 1-mill road tax had had solid support through the years, easily passing in 2008 and 2012.

 

Watson Township

Road ImprovementS Millage (renewal): If renewed, this four-year, 2-mill tax will be levied through 2022. It will raise a projected $127,323.90 in its first year (2019) to be used to fund road improvement projects.

 

Editor's note: Information under Valley Township's ballot proposal has been updated to reflect that its road tax up for a vote in August is essentially a renewal despite not being titled as one.

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