The Eaton County road commission and local municipal officials may have some complicated work ahead as they work on the best formula to use for disbursing funds garnered from passage of the November county road millage. The first disbursement of funds has been made to local municipalities, although commissioners are still working with those municipalities to settle final figures for the $5 million the millage increase will generate annually.
Eaton County Treasurer Bob Robinson said there was some confusion about exactly how much the municipalities would get. This confusion was the result of a conflict between the language included in the November ballot proposal and what the state statue requires by law. As a result, local municipalities may not receive as much funding, or in some case more, as originally thought.
“While a conflict in state statutes between ballot language and disbursement rules created some discrepancies in what was originally expected at the local level, the county commissioners and administration are currently working with the road commission and the cities and villages to work out a final disbursement for June,” Robinson said.
He said initial calculations were based on taxable value. In reality, Robinson said he is bound by state statute MCL 224.20B which calls for those calculations to be based off state equalized values (SEV).
“This continues to be a work in progress,” Robinson said.
Charlotte City Manager Gregg Guetschow said he was informed the city would receive approximately $276,000 this year. Estimates prior to the November election indicated that the City of Charlotte would receive close to $330,000 in annual revenue.
Guetschow said he will continue to analyze the formula being used to calculate how much the city will receive. Aside from the difference between SEV and taxable value, he said one of the factors to consider is what portion of county primary roads lie within city boundaries.
“Everyone went into this with one expectation, that the money generated within your individual community would stay within the community to fix your own roads,” Guetschow said. “From my perspective, we’re not mad at anybody, but see this as an opportunity to work it out so everyone feels it’s done fairly.”
Guetschow said he expects to continue to work with the county to find a resolution that is in the best interest of all municipalities.
Robinson disbursed more than $2 million to the Eaton County Road Commission and local municipalities in early February from funds collected from 2014 winter taxes. The county road commission received $1,606,534.53 and the local municipalities received approximately $400,000.
He said the remaining disbursements will be made in June when the treasurer’s office typically settles accounts with local municipalities.
“I felt the road commission as well as local communities would want money as soon as possible,” Robinson said. “Typically, the money would not be disbursed until our office settled with the municipalities in June, but we had a significant collection early on from 2014’s winter taxes.”
Robinson said the voter approved 1.5 mills will be levied annually on property owners’ winter taxes. The millage is for 12 years, until 2026, and will generate more than $60 million for road rehabilitation and restoration throughout Eaton County.