Regarding Pentwater village’s city feasibility study, I think the central question is whether owners of residential and commercial properties in the village should only be taxed for needed government services that are provided as efficiently as possible, and not be taxed for unneeded services, nor taxed twice.
It’s good that citizens are beginning to question both local governments, but overlooked so far is the conclusion of the township taxpayer-paid Citizens Research Council Report: “Pentwater Township would be affected … but tools exist for it to adapt. Because Pentwater Township has a relatively rich property tax base and levies taxes at relatively high rates, it will have more resources … while some services and operations may need to be scaled back, those changes would do little to lessen the quality of life in the township.” Shouldn’t township taxpayers start asking why we pay relatively high tax rates on our relatively rich properties?
I’ve compared the budgets posted on the township and village governments’ websites. Looking at the township budget as a village resident, I see that I’m helping to pay these township expenses: trustees, planning/zoning functions, support for Park Place, recreation, sewer, township office expenses (e.g., HVAC, snowplowing, repairs, office expenses, utilities, IT, etc.), and the transfer station. We also help pay for a township supervisor, deputy supervisor, clerk, deputy clerk, treasurer, and deputy treasurer — can their services to village taxpayers be more efficiently provided by village staff? This needs careful vetting. We also pay a millage to repair Township roads.
Looking at the village budget, I see I’m also paying for a board, planning/zoning functions, Park Place (a .348 millage), parks and recreation, sewer, village hall expenses, sanitation, manager, and clerk/treasurer. And I’m paying to repair village streets (township taxpayers don’t, although they often use them).
I also see an almost $100,000 expense for channel dredging in the village budget, but no related expense in the township budget.
All this seems awfully redundant and/or unfair. The township provides services for 762 residents living outside village limits, and 890 folks who live inside (2020 census data). If “village” taxpayers can receive all needed local government services from a new “city” form of government more efficiently, then the township staff would be left with providing services to fewer than half the residents. But again, the CRC concluded that “Those changes would do little to lessen the quality of life.”
My learning continues.