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Superior Board Raises Taxes 1%

Mark Thompson-Kolar
The Ypsilanti Press

SUPERIOR TWP. — Before an audience of three citizens, the Township Board approved a resolution Monday night that effectively raises township taxes by 1 percent.

The increase comes as a property tax administration fee.

Michigan Public Act 124, passed early this year to amend an 1893 Act, gives local governments the ability to enact the fee. The act specifies that the additional money be used to cover township costs of property assessments, sales of delinquent tax properties and tax collection.

The township has budgeted $26,141 for its assessor in 1989.

Treasurer Martha Kern said the estimated $35,000 raised by the fee based on the township's annual property tax revenues of $3.5 million should cover the assessment budget.

The fee is expected to cost about $20 for the average property owner who pays $2,000 in taxes.

The vote was 5-2.

Trustee Tom Freeman, Clerk Sandra Isaacson, Supervisor Michael Ricci, Trustee Colleen O'Neal and Kern supported it. Trustees David Phillips and Emmett voted against the fee.

Ricci said he supported the fee.

"I wouldn't propose it if it weren't necessary. We're not getting the revenues we need to cover our operating expenses," Ricci said.

O'Neal disagreed. "With $500,000 in our fund balance I think we're doing pretty well with what we've got." O'Neal, however, voted in favor of the fee with the majority.

The township General fund contains $484,417.62. It receives the surplus left over from the annual budget.

Emmett said the township consistently runs a surplus budget. "I don't see how we can have a $500,000 surplus in the General Fund and go to the taxpayers for more money."

Ricci said the surplus exists because the township continually overbudgets and "has not been supplying the services that have been budgeted." He mentioned last year's unspent $100,000 road budget as an example.

He also said increased population growth and demands on general services would require more money in the future.

Phillips said," It represents raising taxes. Any increases should possibly come from a millage."

The three Superior Township residents in the audience said they were very displeased with the board's action.

"We were just concerned that the meeting was scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in the paper when it began earlier at 6 p.m. It turned out to be a 1 percent increase on taxes, which boiled out to be about a quarter of a mill increase," said Bill Young, of 9565 Cherry Hill Road.

"This could have been brought up at a regular board meeting rather than at a special meeting." The issues they mentioned as reasons for needing more funds just didn't seem reasonable, especially when they anticipated the revenues for the year, he said.

Avery Heningburg, of 1867 Ashley Drive, said, "Everything just seemed to be undercover. We hold this special meeting; the timing is confused and hardly anybody shows up because people are looking for the normal notice. Tonight was a grand opportunity to push something through because there wasn't enough people here to give a response."

In a related issue, the board voted unanimously to lower to 1 percent the late fee charged t property tax owners who pay their taxes between Feb. 14 and March 1. This fee was 3 percent.

The new assessment fee and the smaller late fee will begin with next February's tax role.

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