Sylvan Township plans another millage request for sewer and water debt
The Sylvan Township Board on Tuesday night unanimously adopted a resolution requesting that the county board approve a debt millage question for the Aug. 7 ballot.
Last November, township voters rejected a 20-year, 4.75 mill tax levy by 475 votes to 328 votes. That tax would have paid for about $13.2 million in sewer and water system debt payments as well as $1.25 million owed to the Washtenaw County treasurer.
The township owes about $5 million for a water system and $7.5 million for a sewer system, as well the money advanced by the county treasurer for water and sewer special assessment installments that were voided by court judgment.
The township only had enough money in its water and sewer funds to make the Nov. 11, 2011, interest-only payment of $175,000. This year, it will owe $350,000 split into two payments, the first due in May. In 2014, those payments will increase to $969,000 when the principal kicks in.
Without a millage, how much residents will have to pay each year will be decided by the courts. There have been estimates that it could be as much as 9 mills. And each year, a new judgment would be sought by the county through the courts for tax payment amounts.
The township board needs the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners’ approval to put another debt service millage on the ballot, but an exact amount and the duration of the millage won't be determined until the township’s equalization report is issued in April.
County Commissioner Rob Turner, who worked with the township to get the first millage question on the ballot, said that county Treasurer Catherine McClary has agreed to split over two years the $1.25 million owned to the treasurer’s office.
He said township residents were looking at about 9 mills in additional taxes in December, but it’s possible that by splitting the amount owed to the county treasurer that the millage could cut that to about 5.75 mills.
“If property values go up, then the millage rate would go down,” he said.
Meanwhile, Turner said that the Board of Commissioners will be “petitioning the township board for a consent judgment rather than a default judgment,” to keep costs of the taxpayers “as low as possible” should the millage proposal be rejected by voters.
A contract between the township and the county will have to be approved. The board plans to hire Umbaugh and Company, a financial consultant, to provide “the repayment schedules for the debt upon receipt of the new 2012 taxable value,” the resolution states.
“The Sylvan Township Board understands that ballot language will need to be completed and approved by Washtenaw County administration and the Washtenaw County Commissioners,” the resolution states. Lisa Allmendinger is a regional reporter for AnnArbor.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Chelsea area stories, visit our Chelsea page.