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Election 2021: What Greater Lansing Voters Need to Know About Tax Issues on The Aug. 3 Ballot

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Absentee ballots can be returned up until 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Greater Lansing voters are weighing in on a host of tax issues on the August 3 ballot. Here’s what you should know.

In the Potterville district, voters will decide whether to let the school system borrow $28 million for renovations including energy efficiency improvements  and the addition of early childhood classrooms at the elementary school. The district also wants to add an auxiliary gymnasium that will double as an auditorium at the middle and high school.

“Especially being in a small district, I think it's important that each part of your building is multipurpose,” Superintendent Kevin Robydek said.

If the proposal passes, the district’s total property tax rate will stay the same since Potterville is pairing the 2.45-mill bond increase with a 2.45-mill decrease of its sinking fund millage.

Likewise, a proposal for Leslie Public Schools would also maintain the district’s current tax rate. The district is asking voters to renew an 18-mill tax on non-homestead properties like vacation homes, rentals and businesses.

The tax collects $1.5 million annually for operating expenses and is required for the district to continue receiving its per-pupil funding allocation from the state.

Meanwhile, the city of Lansing is asking voters to restore a 20-mill cap on property taxes, which would allow the city to keep its 19.44-mill “essential services” tax to fund police, fire, roads and sidewalks.

Approval of the five-year proposal would override a provision of Michigan's Constitution called the Headlee Amendment, which caps property tax rates so that a community's growth in property tax revenue does not exceed the rate of inflation.

If the measure fails, Lansing's tax rate would roll back to nearly 18.9 mills, costing the city about $1.36 million annually.

“We are still working to regain the buying power of the city's taxable value from the 2008 recession and this proposal will help maintain that level of funding to city services that residents (have) come to rely on,” City Council President Peter Spadafore said.

“I hear a lot from residents about the need for adequate public safety and the state of our roads, while not great, with less dollars, [they] will deteriorate even faster. So, this is about maintaining services and trying to keep our roads in somewhat of a good condition.”

A mill represents $1 for every $1,000 of a property’s taxable value. 

Sarah Lehr is a state government reporter for Wisconsin Public Radio.
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