Property Levies Not Yet Official

May 27, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — Kent County commissioners will be asked to take on a new task soon, right after members of the Finance Committee recommend next week that they do so.

Coming before the committee will be a request to change the property tax billing dates because of a change state lawmakers made to the general property tax act last year. When legislators made the change, which will shift the collection of the tax from winter to summer over three years, they didn’t provide specific guidelines as to how counties are to make the transfer.

The transfer will officially start on July 1 when local units can begin sending bills worth a third of a property’s total levy to property owners. Then on Dec. 1, owners will receive a bill for the remaining two-thirds of the tax. Not only will taxpayers be affected by the new dates, so will the county and its general operating fund.

“Over the three-year period, the general operating levy will move from winter to summer tax bills,” Robert White, county fiscal services director, told the Finance Committee.

So commissioners need to officially levy the tax for the July bills, but first the committee has to recommend doing that next week.

In past tax years, the county has levied all 4.2803 mills it collects for operations in the December bills. This year, though, Kent will levy 1.4267 mills in July and 2.8536 mills in December for operations.

Another change will be required next year when two-thirds will be levied in July and a third in December. The following year brings yet another change, as the entire tax will levied in July.

The change also brings with it higher costs for local units to send two bills for two years to collect the same amount of tax revenue that was collected with a single bill last year.

The portion of the tax that supports the county’s correctional facility and Kent’s services to senior citizens will not be affected by the changing collection date.

“The correctional facility and senior services will remain in winter bills unless the law is changed,” said White.

An owner of a home valued at $100,000 can expect a tax bill of $142.67 to arrive in a mailbox near them in July. The December bill should be for $388.73. Had state lawmakers not amended the property tax act, this homeowner would have received a bill for $531.40 in December — or the total of the July and December mailings.

“We will be paying more on our summer tax bills,” said County Vice Chairman Roger Morgan, who chairs the Fiscal Committee.    

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