Grand Rapids may cut millage rate

May 29, 2012
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Grand Rapids city commissioners will hold a handful of key public hearings in a few weeks, but perhaps none is more important than one concerning the city’s upcoming fiscal year spending plan and next year’s millage rate for commercial and residential properties.

For the current fiscal year, the city’s millage rate is 8.37 mills or $8.37 for every $1,000 of a property’s taxable value. But for the coming year, which begins July 1, the proposal is to drop the rate to 8.17 mills, even though property values have fallen the past several years. Should commissioners go along with the lower levy, the reduction in the overall millage would come by cutting the refuse collection portion of the tax from 1.8 mills to 1.6 mills.

City CFO Scott Buhrer reported the average taxable value of a residential property in the city this year is $45,564, down from last year’s $47,704. If the proposed rate is approved, he said the average tax tab for homeowners would be $372.33 next year. This year it’s $399.34.

State law allows the city to authorize a total levy of 9.34 mills instead of the 8.17 mills it has proposed.

As for the spending plan, the city projects it will have total expenditures of $368.1 million in the next fiscal year. About $115 million of that will be in the city’s general fund, with $80 million going to the police and fire departments.

Commissioners will hold the hearing June 12 and are expected to adopt the property-tax rate and spending plan June 19.

On the same date, commissioners will hold a hearing for a multi-year special assessment on properties in the downtown district. The $2.38 million assessment would go to the Downtown Improvement District and pay for maintenance, beautification, marketing, communications and administrative services downtown. Property owners along Monroe Center and the Louis Campau Promenade will pay a higher fee than others to maintain and operate the sidewalk snowmelt system. If approved, the assessment would begin July 1 and continue through June 30, 2015.

Rockford Construction’s plan to renovate 601 First St. NW, a former Miller Products plant, into its new headquarters will be heard by commissioners on the same date. The company is expected to invest $4.7 million into the project and is seeking $1.1 million in brownfield tax-increment financing for remediation work it will do on the property. The city stands to gain nearly $80,000 in new tax revenue from the project when it’s completed.

Commissioners also will hold a hearing on whether to allow Holland Home to refund bonds the organization sold through the city’s Economic Development Corp. in 2000. The company used the proceeds from the bonds to finance independent- and assisted-living units at Raybrook Homes, Raybrook Manor and Fulton Manor.

City Economic Development Director Kara Wood said Holland Home intends to refund the bonds through Kentwood’s Economic Development Corp. The principal being refunded won’t exceed $60 million.

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