April 24 10:13 AM

Good news, bad news scenario for taxpayers

Reduction in assessments means less money for municipal services

July 11, 2007
ALMONT — It's all about taking the bad with the good, say village officials.

The good news is that Almont Village residents are seeing their taxes go down because of decreased property assessments.

The bad news is that because the village will be collecting fewer tax dollars, village officials have had to make up the difference.

"We had a $1.5 million loss in taxable values," says Village Manager Gerald Oakes. "That means assessments are going down a lot, which turns out to be less revenue for the village.

"This has never happened before," Oakes points out. "Usually assessments have increased gradually each year."

On the plus side, says Oakes, the village just made the final bond payment on the wastewater treatment plant. The payoff eliminates 2.35 mills from the village's tax rolls.

However, needed repairs at the wastewater plant forced the village council to raise the sewer rate by 92 cents per thousand gallons used, a 20-percent increase.

The repairs to the plant were not unexpected, according to Oakes.

"That plant is now 20 years old," he says. "All the pumps need to be rebuilt. Twenty years of pumping sewage is hard on those systems. It's not like pumping water."

With the reduction in revenues, the council recently decided to increase the general operating millage by 1.37 mills, effective July 1.

"This is a substantial increase," Oakes explains. "We want to do this slowly and over a period of time." He added that both the millage and sewer rate increases will begin showing up on residents' bills in September.

A savings for taxpayers

Oakes says the village's total operating millage is currently 11.71 mills, up from 10.34 mills. However, with the reduction of 2.35 mills from the waste water plant payoff, residents will realize an overall reduction in taxes of .98 mill.

"Residents are still saving the difference between the 2.35 mills they had been paying for the sewer plant bonds and the increase of 1.37 mills."

For its part, Oakes says the village council has been doing what it can to save money and tighten the budget.

"Overall our total budget is about $50,000 down from last year," he says, adding that the police liaison officer at the high school has been eliminated, and there has been a greater reliance on part-time officers. Other cuts were made to the DPW department.

He says the village is still waiting to hear from the Michigan legislature regarding its eventual share of municipal revenue sharing.

"In our budget, we anticipated a slight cut in revenue," says Oakes. "We should know for sure by the end of July."

Staff Writer
Castle Creek
04 - 24 - 19
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