Traverse City Record-Eagle

August 4, 2013

Green Lake voters face big tax decisions

BY MICHAEL WALTON
mwalton@record-eagle.com

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TRAVERSE CITY — No one stands to see their tax bills grow more this year than Green Lake Township property owners after Grand Traverse voters weigh in on a handful of local millage proposals.

Voters from Green Lake Township who live within the boundaries of Traverse City Area Public Schools face at least five tax increase questions in August and November. If all are approved, property taxes for township residents and businesses within TCAPS boundaries will increase by 3.62 mills, or roughly $362 annually per $100,000 in taxable property.

Tony Kochevar, owner of Green Lake Township's Interlochen Golf Club, said the proposed tax increases could spell trouble for small businesses in the township, especially seasonal businesses like his.

"From a business standpoint, with gross revenues going down for the last four years I don't see how small business owners can afford any kind of increase," he said. "I'm not saying (the millages) are bad, but everybody's got their hands out."

The first round of millages will appear on ballots Tuesday. Northwestern Michigan College will float a 15-year, .4-mill tax increase to all Grand Traverse County voters. The millage would raise about $1.7 million annually for the community college's operations if approved.

Green Lake Township voters will also cast ballots on Tuesday either for or against a 1.5-mill renewal, plus a .43-mill increase for emergency fire and ambulance services. The 1.93 mills would generate about $484,000 per year for five years if approved.

Township Supervisor Paul Biondo said the township has provided fire and ambulance services since the 1960s, but the costs of those services have grown over time.

"This is certainly a high priority in most people's eyes," he said.

Also on Tuesday, residents of Union and Fife Lake townships who live within the Forest Area Community Schools district will separately consider a 5-year renewal of the district's 1-mill millage for a capital improvements sinking fund.

At least three more millages are slated for Grand Traverse County's November ballot: a county-wide 1-mill levy to fund road repairs and maintenance for three years, and two TCAPS capital improvement project millages.

The first district-wide millage is a $35-million, .27-mill proposal for, among other projects, reconstruction at Interlochen, Eastern and Glenn Loomis elementary schools, bus and technology replacements, and security upgrades at Central High School and West Middle School. The second is a $13-million, .09-mill proposal for auditorium reconstruction at Central High School.

If voters approve millage proposals from NMC, the road commission and TCAPS, most county property owners will see their annual tax rates increase by 1.69 mills, or $169 for a home with a taxable value of $100,000.

Shirley Moore is the president of Interlochen-based Cycle-Moore, a Green Lake Township motorcycle shop. Moore said she supports all of the proposed millages.

"It's a lot, but there's a fine line between too much and not enough," Moore said. "It's a very expensive world we live in."