It’s not every day that a governmental unit says it has too much money.
But that’s exactly what Michael Roof, director of Grand Traverse County Veterans Affairs, told the county commission this week. He said the VA was taking in more tax money than it required, the excess was being routed into a “reserve” account, and that the account was on track to grow to more than $860,000 in taxpayer money by 2022. That excess, Roof said, didn’t feel right, because the money was not meant to become a reserve fund.
Roof told commissioners that the situation only became clear after two years of millage appropriations and corresponding budgets were on the books.
Roof, a Marine veteran who took the helm at the local VA in January 2018, asked that the county reduce the millage being collected for Veterans Affairs.
He told commissioners the reduction wouldn’t adversely affect veterans services. Commissioners voted to lower the rate.
Area voters in 2016 approved .12 mills for veterans services, to be collected through 2022. Effects of Michigan’s Headlee Amendment in May rolled that .12 back to .1185. This week’s county commission vote lowered the rate to .08 mills.
As a result, a Grand Traverse County property owner with a home valued at $250,000 will save about $9 a year.
That doesn’t sound like much. But the total of $115,000 not collected in 2020 will be available to help boost the county’s economy, as will the money that won’t be collected in 2021 and 2022. Those funds, instead of going into a VA reserve account, will flow from households to businesses.
We applaud Roof for coming forward with the information and for requesting that the millage be lowered to a rate that is equal to need. We applaud county commissioners for agreeing with his suggestion.
The millage reduction is a win for county taxpayers. It’s a win for the local economy. It’s a win for local veterans, who will continue to receive the benefits they richly deserve.
The local VA office works with veterans on benefit claims with state and federal government, applies for burial benefits, handles formal requests of VA flags from the U.S. Post Office, and offers access to state and private funding sources including the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund.
Government agencies need tax money so they can provide services. It feels right that they collect only what they need.