TC v EL Taxes // Eliot Singer

Having recently received my Traverse City 2018 assessment, with 2.1% inflation increase, I have been trying to more fully understand my tax millages in comparison with what I was used to in East Lansing.

Both communities have significant aging infrastructure problems. As far as I can tell, public safety and public services in TC are as good or better than in EL.

Bottom line is TC local taxes (defined as for a brownfield plan, including ISD but not school district) comes to about 27.8 mils as opposed to about 47.1 mils for EL. (I have excluded voter-approved debt. EL debt millage is winding down, TC Recreation Authority Debt is about .44 mils. I have not heard of any plans to close TC recreation facilities paid for by taxpayers.)

Differing breakdown of city versus county functions and specific millages makes comparison imprecise, but….

1) East Lansing city operating millage plus solid waste for 2017 was about 19.4 mils. TC analogous (including millage for seniors, recreation operating, and roads) comes to about 12.8 mils. However, there is also a public safety retirement millage of about 2.3 mils. If EL were to institute 3 mils for public safety retirement, the difference would be about 22.4 mils version 15.1 mils.

EL has 2 mils for the library. TC is about .95 mils. The TC Woodmere main library overlooks Boardman Lake.

2) LCC is 3.8 mils, Northwest Michigan Community College (NMC) is about 1.5, including debt millage for recent renovations.

3) Ingham ISD is about 6 mils, Traverse Bay ISD about 2.9 mils.

4) Ingham County is about 10.7 mils (including airport tax), Grand Traverse (including Veterans millage but not seniors, which was lumped into city), is about 5 mils. 911 service was turfed to Ingham County (about 1 mil). I am not sure if this is a TC city or GT county function.

5) CATA is about 3 mils. BATA is about .34 mils. As a senior, I pay 75 cents for city routes and $1.50 to go Glen Arbor, Sutton’s Bay, Interlochen, etc., and there is a door-to-door option, not just for special needs (like SPECTRAN), and they are talking about making it the whole system free for anyone over 60.

6( Median family income in TC is about $69,000. Median owner occupied home about $200,000 value.

Family median income in EL is about $89,000. Median owner occupied home in EL about $180,000.

(Median family income is a better comparison than median household income, given the latter is skewed in EL by the large student population.)


Eliot Singer

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