Last week, voters in the city of Brighton defeated a proposal to remove the cap from the city millage rate so the city could levy the full, 20-mill amount authorized under the city charter. The measure lost by just 128 votes out of more than 3,300 votes cast, which is considered a narrow margin. The $1.85 million in expected annual additional revenues were to be used to repair and upgrade the city's deteriorating streets.

According to City Manager Nate Geinzer, there are a number of reasons why the city felt it needed to override, or negate, the Headlee-mandated rollback. The main reason was the state of the city’s streets, many of which are in fair-to-poor condition. But why couldn’t the city just use the revenues it already has to fix the city’s roads? Geinzer says the city has had to economize to an unprecedented level since 2008, when the Great Recession began.

In addition to declining residential and industrial property revenues due to the drop in property values, Geinzer tells WHMI the state has taken several measures to lower the amount of revenues received by cities, counties, townships and villages.

Despite the better economic times the state is experiencing now since the recession ended, Geinzer says local municipalities in Michigan haven’t received any of the benefits. State steps such as reducing revenue sharing – which are local tax dollars that go to the state, with a portion siphoned back to local communities, have meant the loss of over $2.5 million to the city of Brighton since 2003, Geinzer says.

According to Geinzer, the elimination of the personal property tax has meant the loss of $140,000 to Brighton just from the expansion of the TG Fluid Systems plant on Challis Road. That’s without even considering how the tax’s elimination has affected revenues the city would otherwise receive from other businesses and industries. (TT)