Why has the City considering implementing a Public Safety Special Assessment?
During the 2008 recession, most Michigan communities saw dramatic reductions in taxable value. From 2008 – 2013 the City of Howell’s total taxable value declined by 27.6% While the local economy continues to strengthen, limitations imposed by the State through the Headlee Amendment and Proposal A inhibit Howell’s ability to recover this lost value. Howell’s 2018 taxable value has only recovered to 2004 levels. Although the City has seen a strong recovery in housing values and sales on existing homes have been very strong, the City’s operating millage has been rolled backed by .5 mills under the Headlee Amendment.
What is a Public Safety Assessment?
The City of Howell is considering the adoption of a Public Safety Special Assessment pursuant to Public Act 33 of 1951. The assessment would be levied on the taxable value of all real property and functions similar to a millage. A 2–3 mill Public Safety Special Assessment will generate $600K - $885K annually and would be used to sustain current levels of police service and offset current general fund allocations. The general fund would then be able to support additional and needed infrastructure repair and replacement. The table below illustrates the annual cost of a 1 mill special assessment. City Council is considering levying a Public Safety Special Assessment of 2 – 3 mills.
Didn't the City already raise taxes in 2010?
The City did raise its millage to offset the costs of the 2008 multi-year street program. The revenue from the additional millage is being used to pay for the project bonds.
Why doesn’t the City just cut costs?
During the Great Recession starting in 2008 the City of Howell, as with almost all Michigan communities, saw significant declines in its taxable value. From 2008-2013 the City’s total taxable value declined by 27.6%, resulting in a loss of $1.6 Million annually in property tax revenue. The resulting loss led to the City taking extraordinary steps to manage these fiscal challenges including the following:
- Reduction of staff by 25%
- Seven year wage freeze (2009-2015).
- Negotiations of new health insurance benefits and employee cost sharing.
- Elimination of retiree health care for new employees.
- Negotiations of lower tier retirement benefits for new hires.
- Additional employee contributions to retirement system.
- Shared services agreements with Livingston County and City of Brighton for facilities maintenance and IT services.
- Consolidation of Parks & Cemetery Department with Public Works
- Bidding out Refuse Collection services resulting in cost reductions and a five year rate freeze.
- Deferred a number of infrastructure and major maintenance projects.
What will the City do with the money?
The City will be able to maintain current police service levels and begin to dedicate more funds towards needed infrastructure projects.