Cedar fire millages on three ballots
Kasson Township voters are being asked for the first time to approve an extra-voted millage for fire protection and rescue services.
Voters in Kasson Township will consider a three-year, .75-mill request, which if approved would be collected from 2012 through 2014.
“We’re the only township in the county without extra millage for fire and rescue, but we can’t continue to support it through the general fund,” Supervisor Fred K. Lanham said.
Kasson, which contracts for services with the Cedar Fire Department, has budgeted $81,000 for 2012-13. This total, up $15,000 from this year, comprises more than one-third of township expenses in the coming year.
To make up for the increased fire protection bill, officials held the line or eliminated some line items altogether in its budget. There were no salary increases for township officials this year. And for a second-straight year, no money was earmarked for improvements to highways, streets, and bridges. Capital expenses were also zeroed out in this year’s township budget.
If approved, the millage is expected to raise an estimated $64,000 in the first year it is collected.
However, even with the additional revenue, the township will have to use $17,000 from its general fund to make up the difference.
“It’s expensive. But it is much less than what we’d be spending if we had our own department,” Lanham said.
Kasson Township is one of three municipalities served by the Cedar Fire Department seeking an extra-voted levy for fire and emergency services.
Voters in Solon Township are being asked for a full mill to help fund the fire department it runs jointly with Centerville Township, up .25 mill from last year.
The township purchased its first new ambulance in 15 years this spring at a cost of about and electric bill and for salaries.
Neither of the millages has ever been turned down, but if they do fail, citizens will likely see a cutback in services, said Gary Fredrickson, Leelanau Township board trustee.
“The services that people have come to expect won’t be there,” Fredrickson said.
Both proposals are four-year renewals; if approved, both will be on the property tax rolls until 2015. There are 1,940 registered voters in Leelanau Township.
In Suttons Bay and Bingham townships the current levy expires at the end of the year and will fund the department’s operations through 2013. The tax is collected by both townships on behalf of the joint Suttons Bay-Bingham Fire and Rescue Authority, an independent body of elected and appointed offi- cials who oversee the fire and rescue department.
Taxpayers in the two townships are currently paying only 2.2 mills of the 2.3 mills authorized because of various belt-tightening efforts implemented in the past year. Fire and rescue authority officials say they want to renew the full 2.3-mill levy as a hedge against future unanticipated expenses and lower taxable values.
Taxpayers in the two townships are also paying a 0.45 mil levy on bonds used to pay for the department’s upgraded fire hall on St. Mary’s Avenue at First Street in the Village of Suttons Bay, That levy is not included in next month’s ballot request, however.
With a 2.3-mill property tax levy, the owner of a home with a taxable value of $100,000 — roughly $200,000 fair market value — pays $230 per year. For that amount, taxpayers in Suttons Bay and Bingham Township are covered 24 hours a day, seven days a week with Advance Life Support ambulance service provided by highly trained paramedics.
In addition, firefighting capability provided by Suttons Bay-Bingham has been upgraded in recent years, resulting in lower fire insurance premiums for many homeowners in the two-township fire and rescue district.
— Eric Carlson and Patti Brandt contributed to this report.