Traverse City Record-Eagle

October 18, 2010

Traverse City may 'offset' senior measure

Reduction in tax levy may reduce impact of merging 2 senior organizations


TRAVERSE CITY — City residents might not see a jump in taxes from a county-wide proposal to merge two senior-citizen organizations.

Grand Traverse County residents on Nov. 2 will vote on a six-year, 0.1-mill propsal that would merge the Traverse City Senior Center with the Grand Traverse County Commission on Aging.

City commissioners tonight could vote to reduce the 2011-12 city tax levy by at least 0.1 mills. The senior millage would be collected by the county, and commissioners want to make sure city residents don't see an overall increase in taxes if the measure passes.

"This is strictly an offset, and it probably would be helpful to the passage of the millage in the city," Commissioner Mike Gillman said.

The millage is intended to spread responsibility for senior-center funding throughout the county, instead of relying on city government to cover a service widely used by residents of surrounding townships.

Gillman repeatedly has expressed a desire to lower city taxes to be more competitive with surrounding townships. Those townships have lower taxes but benefit from city services, he maintains, and lowering the city's overall tax rate will help attract residents and businesses to the city.

"As long as I am on the commission, it will be one of my top priorities," he said.

Also this evening commissioners are scheduled to discuss:

• A potential decision on the long-debated "depot property" near Eighth Street and Woodmere Avenue. The property, eyed for affordable housing, didn't sell after commissioners in July voted to put it up for sale with the stipulation that any interested developer work at least 10 affordable-housing units into their plans.

• Authorizing a development agreement with the city's Downtown Development Authority, county Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and Grand Traverse Hotel Properties for the ongoing Hotel Indigo project in the Warehouse District.

• Adopting a resolution in support of U.S. Bicycle Route 35, a planned cross-country bike route that will go through Traverse City if completed. The route would come through the city along the TART trail.

• Accepting a roughly $1.4 million payment from Traverse City Light & Power. The check represents about 5 percent of Light & Power's revenues from fiscal year 2009-10 and is required by law to go into the city's general fund.