Fayette council seeks replacement of levies 2012.08.01

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Fayette residents will face a difficult choice in November when they will be asked to increase the taxes they pay.

Passage of the request, however, will lead to something most residents will appreciate: new pavement on village streets.

As village council members try to deal with a shortage of cash, one means of bolstering village finances is to consider voting for a replacement of the existing 2.9-mill levy rather than a renewal.

Ever since the levy was first established in 1968, voters have been asked only to renew the levy every five years. This means that property valuations are still tied to those from more than 40 years ago. By “replacing” the levy, valuations would be brought up to current levels and that results in higher taxes paid.

If approved by voters in November, the new values would not take effect until 2014 since the existing levy continues through 2013.

Village solicitor Tom Thompson told council members at the July 25 meeting that taxpayers need to realize that they’re already paying most of what the new rate would become. He characterized the increase as relatively small.

Examples of how taxes would increase will be provided to residents before the election. Voters will also be asked to replace the existing 2.0-mill park levy.

The idea for seeking the replacement came from concerns about obtaining a $400,000 street resurfacing grant. All streets torn up through the sewer separation project will be repaired and resurfaced through the Long Term Control Plan sewer project. However, that leaves several streets remaining in their present condition.

Former village administrator Amy Metz applied for a $400,000 grant to resurface the remaining streets. The village was awarded the money, but half the cost must be paid through a zero-interest loan to be repaid over 10 years.

The Village doesn’t have the needed $20,400 for an annual loan payment, but as village fiscal officer Lisa Zuver pointed out at the July 11 committee meeting, it’s an offer that’s too good to let slip by. That led to the idea of a replacement levy.

Village administrator Steve Blue said that the poor condition of village streets is generally the top concern expressed by residents. Combine that with a one-time opportunity to have resurfacing done at half price, he said, and it leads council to ask for help from residents at the polls in November.

“Council has been very hesitant to do anything to increase taxes and has over the last several years pared its budget while revenues from the state have decreased,” Blue wrote in a statement before the meeting. “We expect another decrease in state funding to municipalities to be announced in August so if we are to have streets that are in good condition it is imperative that this tax levy is passed.”

Council members took the first step at their meeting last week by passing a resolution to ask the county auditor’s office to determine the amount of money that would be raised by the replacement levy. A preliminary estimate came in at $21,000, a figure that would almost exactly cover the loan cost.

Council voted 5-0 to approve the resolution, with councilor Mat Johnson absent.

The final step was expected today in a special council meeting to look at the auditor’s report and pass a resolution to place the request on the November ballot.

Councilor Julia Ruger suggested scheduling a public meeting to explain the road project and the replacement request.

When village council members considered seeking a replacement levy for 2.9-mill tax in December 2007, the county auditor estimated that the owner of a $75,000 house would pay about $1.20 a week extra.

  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017