Thursday, June 23, 2005

David Hamilton's take on Brighton Fire Authority

The format's messed up a little with the table, but I got this the best I could. David Hamilton is a former county commissioner and the chair of the Livingston Taxpayers' Association.

( 40% tax increase at stake! )

1. The Brighton Fire Authority is leading residents to believe that they aren’t receiving adequate resources because the millage levy of 1.0 mills originally authorized by voters in 2001 has been reduced by the Headlee Amendment to the current 2005 tax levy of 0.9532 mills. However, the table below shows clearly that the fire authority will receive a whopping 40% increase in property tax revenues if voters approve an increase to 1.25 mills this August.

Even with millage roll-backs, property tax revenues have been increasing at 2-3 times the annual inflation rate since the Fire Authority was formed in 2001.

% increase % increase
Tax Millage** X Tax base = Revenues Over previous In revenues
Year Levy (thousands) Levied Year  Since 2001
x:str="2006* ">2006*   1.25 X 2,549,385.16 = $3,186,731 40.30% 86.20%
2005 0.9532 X   2,383,221.46 = $2,271,687 7.10% 32.70%
2004 0.9612 X 2,206,554.49 =  $2,120,940 8.50%
2003 0.9763 X 2,002,798.11 = $1,955,332 6.20%
2002 0.9906 X 1,858,382.38 = $1,840,914 7.60%
2001 1 X 1,711,522.83 = $1,711,523

*Assumes passage of the new 1.2500 mills levied against the est. 2006 taxable valuation. The 2006 Taxable Valuation confirmed with County Equalization Director on May 17, 2006.

** Source- Millage Levy Requests filed annually with the Livingston County Clerk

2. The Brighton Fire Authority is claiming that they need addition tax revenues to handle the growth in the fire district. Therefore, an analysis of the rate of population growth in the fire authority area should be in order.
(Format by me)

2006 population
Brighton City - 7282
Brighton Twp - 18789
Genoa Twp - 20128
Total - 46199

2000 population
Brighton City - 6701
Brighton Twp - 17673
Genoa Twp - 15901
Total - 40275

The taxing area for the Brighton Fire Authority is composed of the City of Brighton, Brighton Township and Genoa Township. Figures shown above reveal that the property tax revenues for the authority have grown over 32 % in the last 4 years, while the population grew by only 14.7 % in about the same time period. With tax revenues growing twice as fast as the population it serves, the existing millage rate of 0.9532 mills appears more than adequate.

One of the primary reasons proponents argued for a fire authority back in 2001 was the efficiencies and economy of scale that would result in combining the operations of multiple fire departments.

Putnam Township voters recently approved renewal of their fire millage at the 2005 rolled back millage rate and Green Oak Township is placing public safety millage renewals on the August 2006 ballot at the 2005 rolled back millage rates. Those millage rates will still provide inflationary increases in future years.

Fire Authority officials will lead you to believe that increasing the millage from 0.95 mills to 1.25 mills is just a “modest” tax increase on its residents. However, the fire authority encompasses a large geographic area which has an enormous tax base valued at over 2.5 billion dollars. What seems like a small millage increase can generate a very large increase in property tax revenues.

It would appear that some of those promised “economies of scale” and a little old-fashioned cost containment may be in order.
David C. Hamilton

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