Sylvan Township residents defeat 4.75 mill tax levy
Sylvan Township voters rejected a 4.75 mill tax levy that would pay for about $13.2 million in sewer and water system debt payments as well as $1.25 million owed to the Washtenaw County treasurer, 475 votes to 328 votes, according to unofficial results of Tuesday's election.
By noon, about 220 voters had cast ballots in what Township Clerk LuAnn Koch called “a steady turnout throughout the day.”
Of the 2,526 registered voters in Sylvan Township, 803 of them cast ballots.
Residents turned down a 20-year millage to pay off a $5 million water system and a $7.5 million sewer system as well as an about $1.2 million to Washtenaw County for money advanced by the treasurer to the township.
The funds were for “township sewer special assessment installments which were voided by court judgment and water special assessment installments which were declared uncollectible,” according to the ballot language.
Several voters approached for comments at the polls this afternoon respectfully declined to discuss either the township’s situation or how they voted.
Currently, the township only has enough money in its water and sewer fund to make the Nov. 11 interest-only payment of $175,000.
When asked what the next possible steps might be, Koch said the township board would discuss whether to place a millage question on the February ballot. The early 2012 election serves as the presidential primary. Recently, a group of township residents launched a website offering possible alternative ways to deal with the township’s debt situation.
Prior to Tuesday’s election, there were a number of letters to the editor from residents explaining why they planned to vote “no” on the millage proposal. In addition, there was a letter from County Commissioner Rob Turner offering his thoughts on why township residents should vote in favor of the millage.
Turner worked with the township and the county to find a way to “smooth” the debt payments over 20 years that would satisfy the county, pay off the water and sewer bonds and reduce the yearly tax on residents.
He and township Attorney Pete Flintoft held a series of informational meetings about the millage for residents prior to the vote.
If nothing changes, in 2012, the township will owe $350,000 for the bonds and in 2014 the payment will increase to $969,000 when the principal payments start to kick in.
In the first year, the proposed tax levy was estimated to raise about $853,860. If it had been approved, the millage would have meant a home with an assessed value of $100,000 would be taxed $475 per year. Currently, residents pay less than 1 mill for township operations.
Lisa Allmendinger is a reporter for AnnArbor.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Chelsea area stories, visit our Chelsea page.