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AI- 3059   12. B. 3.    
BOC Regular
Meeting Date: 11/07/2019  
Approval of Parks Millage Ballot Language
FROM: Jim Dyer, Corporation Counsel, Corporation Counsel
Department: Corporation Counsel  

Resolved, that the Calhoun County Board of Commissioners does approve the proposed language to place a .20 mill Parks millage on the ballot for a vote of the people at the March 10, 2020 election or subsequent election in 2020, as presented, and authorizes the County Clerk and Calhoun County Administration to take all steps required by law to accomplish the same. 
The Calhoun County Community Development and Administration Departments recommend approval of the resolution. The resolution does not, and by law cannot, take a position concerning the adoption of the proposed tax. Adoption of the Resolution would place the questions on the ballot on March 10, 2020 or subsequent election in 2020, for a decision by the electorate of Calhoun County, as required by law. 
Calhoun County currently has no source of revenue dedicated to parks and recreational activity. This function is currently funded by other available county funds and grants. This fund source is expected to be depleted by the end of the 2020 budget year, with no dedicated source of funds and doubtful sustainability into the 2021 budget year and beyond.

Community Development has done extensive research into other funding source, such as user fees, and determined these sources incur significant administrative and operation expenses thenselves, and show limited success at achieving operational sustainablity. The proposed millage would assure dedicated funding, that must be approved by a vote of teh people, as was the case with Senior Services, Veteran Services, and the County Medical Care Facility.

The Michigan Constitution of 1963, Article IX, Section 31, provides that a "Local Unit of Government," including a County may not levy a tax, even when authorized by law, without the approval of a majority of the qualified electors of that unit of Local Government voting in favor of imposing that tax. This provision applies both to new taxes and the renewal of existing taxes. MCL 46.11 grants to the Calhoun County Board of Commissioners the power to raise funds by taxation for any lawful purpose. MCL 46.351 et seq, permits a County to establish a Parks Commission and to acquire, maintain and operate a system of parks, to served County residents. MCL 46.354 specifically authorizes a County Board of Commissioners to fund parks.

MCL 211.24f, provides that a County may submit a ballot proposal to permit the consideration of any new or renewal tax proposals. The combined effect of these statutes permits a County to fund maintaining, operating, preserving, acquiring, and developing a system of parks by taxation, if that tax is approved by a vote of the people.

The proposed .20 mill tax would raise an estimated $730,164.00 in 2020, the first year of the levy. The proposal was developed by the Calhoun County Community Development Staff and has the support of the County Parks Commission. The estimated cost to an individual property owner would be about $10.00 per year for a residence or property with a true cash value of $100,000.00. The actual cost would likely be somewhat less, depending upon the taxable value of a specific property.  

The Community Development Staff also proposes that 50% of the tax revenue generated would be distributed to local municipal entities, using a population-based formula. Should the Board approve this Resolution, and the Ballot proposal succeed in the March 2020 election, the exact manner of determining the distribution of this revenue would be determined. It is most likely that it would be distributed in a manner similar to the allocation of Senior Millage funds, in a process that would assure the funds were used in a manner consistent with the approved Ballot language.
A copy of the proposed Ballot language, an overview of the approved purposes for use of the funds generated by the tax, and the potential allocations payable to local units of government are attached for your review.  
The Commission could delay a vote, but language concerning the ballot proposal must be presented to the County and local clerks no later than December 15, 2019 to be considered for the March 10, 2020. Failure to approve the resolution will prevent a vote on this issue. 
 Approval of the resolution is recommended to allow a vote of the people regarding the levy of a .20 mill tax to fund maintaining, operating, preserving, acquiring, and developing of a system of parks for the use of County residents.

Fiscal Impact
Any elections costs charged to the county Parks Department will be borne by private sources and unrestricted funds other than from property tax receipts.

If approved, the new millage would provide approximately $750,000 in annual funding for park activities throughout Calhoun County. It is planned that 50% of such funds would remain with the County Parks Department and 50% distributed to other municipalities. The current County Parks Department funding is inadequate to continue to sustain and improve our parks into the future. Community Development has done extensive research into other funding source, such as user fees, and determined these sources incur significant administrative and operation expenses themselves, and show limited success at achieving operational sustainability.

Parks Millage Proposed Ballot Language
Ballot Proposal Outline
Projected Local Unit Allocations

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