Public Needs To Understand City Of Saugatuck Doesn't Get To Pocket All Tax Payments It Collects
There is a false misconception on the part of some residents that all the money that one pays in taxes goes to the city, when in reality only a portion does, Saugatuck City officials reminded the public at Monday night’s council meeting.
The topic surfaced while discussing the annual agreement between the city and the Saugatuck Public Schools district whereby the city collects the summer tax levies on behalf of the district and gets reimbursed $2.75 per pacel for doing so.
“It’s easier for one governmental agency to collect all tax revenues and disperse that back to those entities. It works like that in every city,” Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier informed council about the established process.
The council unanimously approved the agreement for the 2015 summer tax collection, while also wanting to dispel misconceptions and clear misunderstandings about where residents’ tax money ends up.
“I agree with Jane (Verplank, fellow councilperson); they (local taxpayers) write a check and they think everything goes to the city, and it doesn’t,” said Saugatuck Mayor Bill Hess.
Newly elected Saugatuck Council Member Ken Trester had similar comments, saying he himself didn’t previously thoroughly understand.
The budget report for the end of fiscal year 2013-2014, accessible to the public on the city’s website, shows that for principal residents (non second-home owners), their tax dollars are allocated as such: education 42% (i.e., 42¢ out of one dollar); the city 38%; Allegan County 15%; fire district 3%; library 1%; and Interurban 1%.
Second-home owners, under the rubric of non-principal resident exemption, pay 17% more in taxes for education and less for other public services.
Their tax dollar distribution is the following: education 59%; the city 27%; Allegan County 10%; fire district 2%; library 1%; and Interurban 1%.
“The city only collects on the summer tax bill; we don’t collect anything on the winter tax bill,” said Harrier.
He added that the city’s operating millage has remained at 12 mills since 2009.
City officials said they will strive to continue to provide the public with information, whether in the annual end-of-fiscal-year budgetary report or through other means.