Special Millage for Police and Fire in Detroit

On May 10, both Detroitnewspapers reported that members of the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners announced support for a proposed special millage that would be used to retain police and fire personnel threatened with layoff due to budget cuts.  The proposed  five-year, seven-mill authorization would raise about $56 million annually, according to the reports.

The Home Rule City Act sets a maximum of 20 mills for operations of a city.  (A mill is equal to $1 of tax for every $1,000 of taxable value of property.  The Home Rule City Act provides for a maximum of a 2 percent property tax.)  Detroit’s basic General City property tax rate for operations has been 19.9520 mills since FY 2008, when three mills levied for refuse collection and disposal was replaced by a fee per household (now $240 for single family homes).  The Headlee Amendment to the Michigan Constitution requires a property tax rate rollback when the existing tax base grows faster than inflation; the current rate reflects the Headlee rollbacks from the original 20 mill levy.  The city also levies 9.5558 mills for debt service for unlimited tax bonds and 4.6307 mills for the Detroit Public Library.  Other overlapping taxing jurisdictions that levy taxes on property in Detroit include the state, Wayne County, Detroit Public Schools, Huron Clinton Metropolitan Authority, the intermediate school district (Wayne RESA), Wayne County Community College, and the Detroit Zoo.  The total rate of tax on non-homestead property in Detroit exceeds 85 mills.

There is currently no authority in state law that would allow the City of Detroit to impose a special public safety millage in addition to the 20 mills allowed by the Home Rule City Act.  Reports on the proposed public safety millage did not reference any plan to obtain state legislative authority to allow the proposal to move to the voters.

 

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