Clare forced to increase City tax rate by one mil

June 6, 2019

By Pat Maurer
Correspondent


Clare Mayor Pat Humphrey notified all City residents that their taxes will increase by one mill beginning July 1 from 17.5 to 18.5 mills in the general tax rate.

In a letter Humphrey said, “I am saddened to inform you that for the first time during my 15-year tenure as your Mayor, the City of Clare is required to increase the general tax levy of the City by one mill to enable us to balance the City’s General Fund budget for our new fiscal year commencing on July 1…If you are a taxpayer [in the City], you will see this increase in your 2019 summer tax assessment.”

The Charter millage was reduced from 18 mills to 17.5 fifteen years ago and has not been decreased since due to the Headley amendment. The City Charter grants the Commission the ability to levy up to 20 mills. That amount was permanently reduced to 18.769 mills by the Headley amendment.

In addition to 18.5 operating mills, City residents pay a voted millage of .75 mills for parks and 3 mills for streets.

Humphrey said that the one mill increase was necessary because the disbursement of the Proposal A (State sales tax revenues) has been altered “every year since the 2008 national and state recession.”

He wrote, “In Clare’s case, Lansing has withheld $1.94 million in revenues promised to the City under the formulas developed under Proposal A and used those monies to fund Lansing-driven initiatives and programs.”

He continued, “This situation is further exacerbated by another factor of Proposal A that stipulates once property assessments are devalued (as they were in 2008 and the immediate years following the recession), local governments can never recover those values to the level of taxation that existed before the devaluation. Consequently it is nearly impossible to recover fully except by new development, which increases the City’s tax base. And, while we have done quite well in the new development category by bringing new commercial and industrial businesses to Clare, it does not make up for what we lost in value during the recession – and it will take a major development to make up for the loss completely.”

In an effort to reduce City costs in Clare’s new budget, the Commission will also eliminate one full-time police officer to reduce the PD’s operating costs and the purchase of a replacement police vehicle has also been delayed.
At Monday night’s meeting the Commission approved a resolution adopting the July 1 to June 30, 2020 budget totaling $9,994,383.67 in revenues for all funds and total expenditures of $10,111,189.87 for all funds.

Operating expenses total $5,180,177.12; Capital Improvements total $3,890,649.05; and Transfers out and in total $1,040,013.70.

Expenditures include: General Fund $2,201,565.73; Major Street Fund $204,699.37; Local Street Fund $168,210.56; Fire Department Fund $297,562.40; Parks & Recreation Fund $343,944.58; Downtown Development Authority $60,442.40; Drug Forfeiture Fund $1,813.00; Law Enforcement Training $1,500; Debt Service – Public Safety Fund $50,869.57; Sewer Fund $739,144.50; Water Fund $700,249.53; Data Processing Fund $42,350.; and Mobile Equipment Fund $367,825.48.

No Operating Expenditures were listed for the Cemetery Perpetual Care fund; the Municipal Street Fund; Brownfield Redevelopment fund or the Local Development Finance Authority fund.

The City’s fee and rate schedule changes include the addition of rental rates for the Depot and an administration fee for mowing.

A resolution for the 2019-20 millage, administration fees, penalties and tax due dates was also adopted at Monday’s meeting stipulating a 1 percent penalty on unpaid 2019 summer taxes (with a $1 minimum) as of September 1 with an additional ½ percent added each month after up to a total of 6 percent due by February. The due date for Summer taxes is August 31st. Unpaid winter taxes will be penalized 3 percent if not paid by February 15th.

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