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May 3rd millages: Facing big deficits, some cities and schools seek to raise taxes

The impact of the Great Recession continues to be felt as cities and school districts across Michigan seek to raise revenues for basic services.

There's no federal bailout money to help this time around. And the state of Michigan is planning to cut revenue sharing to cities. The state also plans to cut school budgets.

Millages to raise revenue are nothing new, but this time around budgets are strapped. A failed millage could lead to more layoffs of police and fire officials in some cities. And schools might face more personnel layoffs as well.

On Tuesday, May 3rd, voters will decided whether to raise  their property and real estate taxes, or to at least continue them at current levels.

Here's a breakdown of some of the issues that will be on ballots around the state. It's by no means exhaustive. For and exhaustive list, you can check out the Michigan Secretary of State.

Note: One millis equal to $1.00 per $1,000 of assessed value, so if your house is assessed at $150,000, one mill would cost you $150 per year in property taxes.

Millages to support city services

  • Flint - the city will have two millages in front of voters. The first would pay for the operation of the city jail. The millage would "not exceed" 2 mills for three years. It could raise more than $2 million in the first year. The second millage would support police services in Flint. Services that have been drastically cut in the past few years. It would "not exceed" 2 mills for six years. It could also raise more than $2 million in the first year.
  • Lansing - the city is seeking to fund essential services, including police, fire, and local road maintenance by. The measure would increase the current property tax rate by 4 mills for five years. Steve Carmody reported that, "Lansing voters face a difficult choice...increasetheir city taxesor possibly see deep cuts in public safety."
  • Jackson - this measure seeks to consolidate the city police and fire departments into one Public Safety Department. Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reported that this measure doesn't add revenue or save money for the city of Jackson: Interim City Manager Warren Renando says Tuesday’s vote is about better allocating what little money the city has left to spend. "You don’t essentially save much money," Renando says. "But what you do do is put the money that you do have where you feel there is the most need.”
  • Grand Rapids - the tax would support the transportation system in the Grand Rapids area known as The Rapid or the Interurban Transit Partnership. It would replace an expiring tax with one set at 1.47 mills for six years. It would benefit the communities served by the Rapid (East Grand Rapids, Grandville, Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Walker and Wyoming cities).
  • Holland -  the city wants to raise taxes to support the Holland Area Community Swimming Pool. The rate would be .85 mills for a period of three years. It could raise $1,026,547 in the first year.
  • Hazel Park - the city wants to support police and fire services by creating a "special assessment district consisting of the entire City of Hazel Park." They would tax at 9.8 mills for five years. $2,110,205 could be raised in the first year.
  • Southfield - the city wants to support police, fire, medical, library, parks and street maintenance costs with this levy. They would increase the tax rate by 4.9183 mills.
  • Garden City - The city wants to increase property taxes in order to support their police and fire departments. They would raise it 12 mills for five years. $6,601,218 could be raised in the first year of this millage.
  • Ferndale - the city is facing budget shortfalls and is asking voters to increase their property taxes to help make the shortfalls smaller. As the Ferndale Patch reports: The money would go into the general fund to help close a projected $2.3 million shortfall for fiscal year 2012 and a projected shortfall of $16 million the next five years. It would amount to an additional 5.4552 mills for five years and could raise $1,681,806 in the first year.

Millages to support school districts

  • Washtenaw ISD - this proposal would continue a special education millage that is set to expire. It would continue a .9850 mill for a period of 7 years. If approved, it's estimated to raise $14 million in the first year.
  • Kalamazoo RESA - this proposal would increase the tax rate to help pay for operational costs for school districts in the area. It would be an increase of 1.5 mills for three years. If approved, it could raise $11,238,288 in the first year.
  • Monroe ISD - this proposal would continue a millage that raises funds to support the educational technology needs of Monroe public school students in the district. It would be set at .9866 mill for a period of 5 years. If it's approved, it could raise $5,508,988 in the first year.
  • Northville Public Schools - the school system in Northville is asking voters to raise their property taxes to pay for the construction or repairs of school buildings and "all other purposes authorized by law." It would be 1 mill levy for five years and would raise $2,414,147 in the first year.
  • Davison School District - the measure is a renewal that would help pay for school construction and repair costs in the school district. It would be a levy at the rate of 1.4 mills for five years.
  • Flushing School District - the district would renew the current levy for school construction and repair costs. The rate would be .75 mills for five years.
  • Mt. Morris School District - another renewal for a school sinking fund. This measure would pay for construction and repair of school buildings. The rate would be set at 2.5 mills for three years.


Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
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