September 21, 2014

Lincoln Township board considers special assessment for fire service

Would free up money for road work

Posted

LINCOLN TWP. — The Lincoln Township board unanimously voted to pursue a special fire assessment during its regular meeting May 9.

The township currently pays roughly 1-mill for fire services out of its operational budget. According to township Treasurer Judy Bell, that leaves little money for the township to do much else. She added that state revenue sharing is the primary reason it is able to “keep the lights on” at the hall.

By creating a special assessment at 1 mill on real property only — no personal property — the township will be able to raise approximately $22,616 to cover its fire department services based off of 2013 real property values, township Assessor Denise Hall said. This would free up a similar amount of money from the budget for road work and other township projects.

Supervisor David Hertzberg said the township has $12,000 in its road fund for this year, and one pass to oil the roads to prevent dust in the township costs $6,000.

“$12,000 doesn’t go very far,” he said.

Unlike a normal millage, a special assessment can only be set up for police and fire services, Hall said. A special assessment district would need to be drawn up — in this instance, she said it would cover everything within township lines — and two public hearings would be required. At that point, township officials would choose whether or not to pursue the assessment without needing to put it on the ballot.

Township residents must be informed about the public hearings and be given ample time to send in petitions or personal letters supporting or opposing the measure, Hall said. If people who own approximately 20 percent of the land in the township combined oppose the measure, it will be forced to go before residents for a vote. Otherwise, the objections will be recorded and the board will move forward.

Following the first hearing, residents will get a 30- to 60-day period before the second hearing takes place to give their input.

“We can go for it and notify the people. If they’re against it, maybe we won’t do it,” Bell said.

Hall said Lincoln Township has a comparatively low millage rate on residents compared to others in the area.

“Other townships have millages for mosquitos or roads, and you’ve never done that to your taxpayers,” Hall said. “This is an important thing to do for the township.”

Bell and Hall agreed to get letters out to all township residents about the special assessment by June 1, with the first public hearing set for July 11 at 6 p.m. prior to the regular township board meeting. Bell said that way, the board could decide whether or not to pursue it further. It they do, the second hearing would then be held at some point in September, before the winter tax rolls are due.

Hall said letters from residents would need to be received by the hearing date to be counted, and can be sent to township Clerk Ardith Demo.

In other township news, the board agreed to oil the roads in the township once this year for $6,000 to help control dust. The remaining $6,000 in the road budget will be used on East City Limits Road, which Lincoln Township and Standish Township are working on jointly with the Arenac County Road Commission.

The townships will pay about quarter each of the overall bill for work on the road, with the road commission covering the other half. Lincoln Township’s share is $27,500 for its 1.5 miles of East City Limits, which will cover graveling, ditching, new culverts and stabilization.

The township will cash in one of its certificates of deposit to help fund the remainder of the work. The city of Standish’s half-mile portion of the road is not included in this project.

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