Leighton Township officials Thursday evening noted that the local library receives more in tax funding this fiscal year than do the township itself and the fire department and local roads program.
The township’s general fund budget for fiscal year 2017-18 will feature 0.76 mill, the roads and fire department 0.98 mill and the library one full mill. The stats are the result of a quirk in state law and of the Headlee Amendment adopted statewide in 1978.
The library funding was established originally with two mills when the structure was built. Since the building, which now also houses township offices, was completed, the millage was reduced to one mill for operations annually. The library, even with a Headless rollback could levy as much as 1.65 mills each year, but doesn’t.
The one mill that the township operates on by state statute has been rolled back to 0.78 because of Headlee provisions, which prohibit townships, villages and cities from levying the same millage if it amounts to an increase in revenue above the inflation rate.
And road and fire department millage renewals are approved every five years, so their original levies aren’t restored annually.
“Everybody who comes into my office (to pay taxes) complains about it,” said Treasurer Char Troost. “I think we could ask the library to make adjustments.”
She said the township’s many farmers maintain they don’t use the library.
Clerk Mary Lou Niewenhuis said making such a move now would be unfair, saying, “They (library officials) have created their budget for the next year, and it’s based on that one mill.”
Supervisor Steve Deer agreed, saying, “I’m willing to have a conversation, but I’m worried about the timing.”