We received the following press release from Lowell Charter Township.
Lowell Charter Township, Michigan, June 21, 2022 – Lowell Charter Township will ask residents to consider a millage on Aug. 2 to support fire and emergency services.
If approved, the millage would raise approximately $282,900 annually for fire and emergency services. In addition to creating a sustainable funding source for these essential services, the millage would allow the Township to focus more of its general fund on resident priorities, such as upgrading roads and maintaining parks, trails and cemeteries.
The proposed millage of 1 mill for eight years was recommended by Township officials after reviewing the community’s current and projected needs. If approved, the millage would cost the average homeowner of a $225,000 house $112 annually.
“We’re a growing community and costs are rising,” said Lowell Charter Township Supervisor Jerry Hale. “As such, the Township needs to secure a reliable way to fund these critical services and ensure we are prepared to serve our community’s needs now – and into the future.
“Our general fund dollars only stretch so far. A dedicated millage will enable us to invest in equipment and personnel to ensure our hardworking firefighters and first responders have the support they need.”
The Township currently contracts its fire and emergency services through the Lowell Area Fire and Emergency Services Authority and the Bowne Township Fire Department. The Township spends $262,472 annually for these two services, an increase of 40% since 2019.
If approved, millage dollars will be used towards staffing and equipment for the Authority. A firefighter/EMT will be hired to assist with calls, allowing the fire chief to focus on critical planning activities for the community. The Authority’s fire truck also needs to be replaced, requiring the Township to pay its share of the purchase at $222,300 – an expense not currently budgeted. If the millage is not approved, the Township will need to cover this cost from its general fund.
The Township funds its fire and emergency services from its general fund — making it one of the only townships in Kent County to do so. Lowell Township is also one of the only townships in Kent County that does not have a dedicated millage or special assessment for fire and emergency services. The proposed millage would create a dedicated, sustainable funding source for fire and emergency services.
If the millage is approved by voters, the Township could focus more of its general fund on other resident priorities, including paving and maintaining roads. According to the Kent County Road Commission, nearly 40% of roads in the Township are rated as poor.
These funds also would free up dollars for Township maintenance of parks, trails and cemeteries, which residents have prioritized as important to them.
A mill is 1/1000 of a dollar, or .001 cents. If a tax rate or millage rate is 1 mill, a resident is taxed .001 cents for every dollar, or $1 per $1,000 of the taxable value of the property. For example, for a residential home with a taxable value of $100,000, the cost of 1 mill would be $100 per year.
Currently, only 1.57% of each dollar paid in property taxes stays with the Township. The remaining property taxes go to other entities in Kent County, paying for education, the library, senior services, jail and other critical services.
“Residents need to understand that we keep a very small fraction of what we collect in property taxes,” Hale said. “This dedicated millage will free up general fund dollars for other residents priorities. Absent additional dollars, though, we will not be able to continue to upgrade our roads and maintain our parks, trails and cemeteries in the future.”
More information regarding the millage can be accessed here.