MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – On Tuesday, June 21, Marquette City Commission will vote on whether to raise the operating millage an additional 2.6731 mills.
The increase would mean the City will be able to have a balanced budget and can continue to provide the current level of city provided services. The increase would raise an additional $1.5 million revenue for operations.
How did the city get to this point?
“There have been significant changes in the tax base within the city. The biggest noticeable change has been the Presque Isle Power Plant that has come down. That was going to be a major hit on the city’s taxable value,” Marquette City Manager, Karen Kovacs continued, “It was not just one thing. It was not just one bad thing. It was a multitude of things on how the city is developing and how we ended up getting to where we are.”
The last time the operating millage was increased was 2006. It went from 14.7 mills to 15.2 mills. It was then raised to 15.3 mills before being lowered to its current position of 14.9 mills, which happened in 2010.
“One way that we’ve not gotten here is by approving Brownfield projects. That is not necessarily how we got here. Brownfield funding or Brownfield projects are very specific and that is more of an investment tool and a way to help economic development happen on rather complicated pieces of land,” added Kovacs.
In looking for solutions, Kovacs said the ultimate long term answer to the financial situation is addressing revenue and expenditures.
“Where we are in Marquette is very unique compared to other cities and the services that we offer and the services that we have to provide.” Kovacs continued, “This is going to be a combined effort between revenue and expenditures and we are committed to making sure that we are making the right decisions right now but also for the future.”
The millage increase would affect property tax owners, which includes landlords and rental companies, which means some rents could go up.
“We’ve been using $85,000 as a taxable value is that that average taxable value because many of our properties fall within that range. And that would equate to a $200 per year increase and I am very aware that that is a significant increase. But if you equate that out to 12 months out of the year, you’re you’re talking a little bit less of an impact than than what some of the comments that I’m seeing are which is $100 increase per month. In order in order for a resident in order for a property to see $100 increase per month. Because of our millage increase that property would be half would have to be close to a million dollars in tax in market value.”
Kovacs said the city is looking at all options including a possible income tax to stay financially sound.
“Instead of shifting the burden on property tax, we’re now looking at the at the parties that are using our services but are not paying a property tax. And so those are sometimes our our larger employers that may not be taxable entities. If you if you know that 50% of the land within the city is deemed non taxable. That’s a significant portion of what I just said is our largest tax base which is our largest revenue source, which is our property taxes. So we’re trying to get creative on those things. But I want to say that income tax takes a long time to look at evaluate and then eventually is going to the vote of the people. And at that point, you have a bigger revenue source to evaluate and then if there’s any room for lowering our burden to our taxpayers, and shifting that on to other users of our of our resources, that would be an option,” said Kovacs.
The City of Marquette has created a Frequently Asked Question page to explain how the millage will work, how to determine the value of your property, and provide more public insight.
Tuesday’s special meeting of the Marquette City Commission to vote on this matter begins at 5:15 p.m. in Commission Chambers at City Hall, 300 W Baraga, Avenue. Marquette.