HOWARD CITY— In less than three weeks, Montcalm County residents will be deciding how much county services are worth to them.
On March 8 — the same day as Michigan’s presidential primary election — Montcalm County voters will be asked to consider a five-year Headlee override millage proposal. The millage would generate approximately $986,077 in revenue in its first year and would help fund the county’s $220,000 budget deficit, which is currently being covered by fund equity, as well as help improve or restore other county services.
Montcalm County Commissioner Ron Baker presented a reminder of the upcoming vote at Monday’s Howard City Village Council meeting.
“The cost for an average person with a home of $40,000 to $50,000 would be $23 to $29 additional for the year,” Baker said. “That kind of investment would help substantially with services for the county.
“Talk to your folks and encourage them to vote,” he added.
If approved by voters, the millage would restore past Headlee reductions to a maximum of 5 mills, which was the previously approved level in 1974. Due to Headlee amendment rollbacks and Proposal A, the county was only able to collect 4.4082 mills for 2015.
The Montcalm County Board of Commissioners has prepared an informational pamphlet which is in circulation throughout the county, outlining areas of budgetary concern, as well as how the county has worked to save money over the years.
County staffing areas of concern include the current lack of 24/7 sheriff’s deputy road patrol coverage, animal control staffing and 4-H staffing.
Capital expenditure areas of concern include updating the current technology infrastructure throughout county buildings, putting a new heating system in the county administrative building, replacing carpet in all county buildings, replacing windows and roof at the administrative building, replacing sheriff’s vehicles that have high milage and repairing and repaving county parking lots.
In order to reduce expenditures in recent years, the county has reduced capital expenditures for all areas, reduced staffing in the jail, reduced staffing to sheriff’s deputy road patrol, reduced the 4-H coordinator to part-time, reduced staffing in county departments, eliminated health care for the Board of Commissioners and “aggressively” monitored health insurance costs and modified plan designs, reduced appropriations to the Parks Department and refunded bonds to save approximately $650,000 on current refunding.
The county has made a variety of collaborative efforts to save funds, including police protection agreements with the villages of Edmore and Howard City, as well as Eureka, Montcalm and Sidney townships; contracting with Kent County for equalization services; creating Central Dispatch as an authority with the city of Greenville; and establishing a three-county health department.
The millage, if approved, would go into effect with the July 1 property tax bill.
Visit montcalm.org for more details about the millage.
What a Headlee override would cost Montcalm County taxpayers if voters approve the ballot proposal on March 8:
• Property with taxable value of $10,000 would pay $5.92 per year.
• Property with taxable value of $20,000 would pay $11.84 per year.
• Property with taxable value of $30,000 would pay $17.75 per year.
• Property with taxable value of $40,000 would pay $23.67 per year.
• Property with taxable value of $50,000 would pay $29.59 per year.
• Property with taxable value of $60,000 would pay $35.51 per year.
• Property with taxable value of $70,000 would pay $41.43 per year.
• Property with taxable value of $80,000 would pay $47.34 per year.
• Property with taxable value of $90,000 would pay $53.26 per year.