Millage Proposals Could Raise Property Taxes by 20% Throughout Saginaw County

Posted In: Politics, Local, Taxes,   From Issue 863   By: Robert E Martin

14th June, 2018     0

Hold on to your wallets.  Four Saginaw County-wide tax millage proposals that have been placed on the August 7th primary election ballot could easily raise the property taxes on 89,000 parcels of property by 20% or more, considering these proposals do not include any local school taxes or operating taxes for your school, township, village, or city.

Indeed, the first three proposals are early renewals requesting increases; and all three are for non-mandated services, meaning that Saginaw County is not by law required to provide them.

#1.  CASTLE MUSEUM. Currently the Saginaw Historical Castle Museum receives $939,177.00 annually. If their millage request passes it is estimated to generate $1,268,383.00 of your tax money annually for ten years.  The increase from current levels is $329,205.

Documents obtained by The Review show that currently the Historical Society Castle Museum has 9 full-time and 6 part-time employees receiving a total of $678,465.15 in wages, federal taxes, state unemployment tax, Workman’s Comp insurance, health care coverage, and employee benefits annually. Out of this the President/CEO receives $73,980, the Vice President & Chief Historian $55,898, and the Chief Curator $51,651.  Apparently, the Museum also employs an archaeologist at $44,817 per year. The average full-time employee wage is $45,958 and the median full-time employee wage is $43,155.

In terms of attendance, in 2015 the Castle Museum drew 24,177 visitors; in 2016 the figure dropped to 22,060; and last year in 2017 it clocked 18,746 visitors. Doing the math, this works out to $68.00 per visitor subsidized by taxpayers. By the end of 2017 its membership figure was 607 and up through February of 2018 it consisted of 525 members.

#2. SAGINAW COUNTY ANIMAL CARE & CONTROL. Currently this governmental entity receives $705,442 of taxpayer money annually, but the Director is proposing to build a new facility that will cost $11.5 million dollars. If approved, the total dollars annually could be $1,948,749 for. 20 years. The annual increase would be $1,293,307. 

The current building was once a Rite Aid pharmacy location and proponents claim the current structure is not large enough to sufficiently address their needs. In addition to a new building, the millage would pay for a fourth animal control officer, six kennel aids, and two office staffers.  Additionally, certain clinical services would be offered for low-cost spay and neutering and animal medical care.

#3. COMMISSION ON AGING.  Presently this entity receives $2,022,263.00 annually and if their millage request passes it is estimated to generate $2,867,239.00 annually for five years. Because they also receive federal tax dollars, their actual budget is over $4 million annually.

#4. SAGINAW COUNTY 911. Director Randy Pfau is requesting a new millage of .028 mills for the years 2018-2027 that is estimated to raise $1,316,239.00 annually for ten years.  Presently, taxpayers pay a surcharge on every cell phone and land line of $2.65 per month that is collected by phone companies who return the money to the County, with no audits or explanation of what they collect. (In other words, there is presently no transparency involved with this.) Saginaw’s 911 Authority currently receives approximately $6 million per year from phone companies to operate; and if this measure passes they will get a total of $7.3 million for ten years.

Saginaw County’s 911 Dispatch Center has a staff of 30 and five supervisors and covers all 810 square miles of the county, working with 22 fire departments and 16 police departments. The center handles about 350,000 calls each year.  If this millage passes it breaks down to $20.86 per 911 call.

Additionally, for the November ballot The Saginaw ISD plans to put forth a new millage for operations of the Saginaw Career Opportunity Center on Weiss Street that will generate an estimated $4.5 million annually for operations.

Currently when a student attends COC, their home school system is required to pay COC one-half of the head-count money they received from the State of Michigan to cover the cost of the education at COC. However, the ballot language for the ISD millage has not been written yet. Proponents will know July 1st if the CPED (state authority) grants them legal control over the COC.  The millage would allow school districts to greatly reduce the cost they now pay for a child to attend the COC.

Presently, taxes paid to Saginaw County today amount to $41,446,079 annually, so if all five of these millages pass, it will be an increase of $8,191,803 for a grand total of $49,657,882.00.

Commissioner Kathy Dwan voted against placing all four questions on the ballot saying the county could not afford it, facing over $100 million in unfunded liabilities for retiree health care, coupled with the $60 million borrowed (i.e. bonded) several years ago to pay unfunded pensions.

Commissioner Kyle Harris also voted against the millage requests. Commissioner Dennis Krafft was also against the animal care ballot, saying the $11 million for a new shelter was too much money.

Look for more detailed coverage on each of these proposals in future editions of The Review leading up to the August election.




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