Election 2012: Ingham County Residents To Decide Three Millage Proposals

Aug 2, 2012

Three funding proposals are going before voters in Ingham County next week. Two would renew existing millages, while a third would enact a small increase if approved.

WKAR’s Scott Pohl spoke with county Controller Mary Lannoye about the proposals, starting with a five-year renewal of six-tenths of a mill for juvenile justice programs. It would generate almost $4 million a year.

MARY LANNOYE:  We’ve used these juvenile justice millage dollars to expand the types of services that we provide, and we’ve been able to, we believe, reduce our costs over the long term and provide a better situation for the youth we’re serving and reduce our recidivism rates.

We’ve started what we call an Ingham Academy, which is a day treatment program that has a heavy emphasis on education. We have about 90 youth in that particular program. We’ve opened to female group homes for girls who for whatever reason can’t remain in their homes. We feel that’s a much better placement. We’ve expanded our in-home detention services, and we even have something we call the Pride Program, which is an evening reporting program for children that are at home but have to report in the evenings.

One proposal renews 9-1-1 millage

SCOTT POHL:  Alright, the second proposal has to do with funding 9-1-1 service in the county.

LANNOYE:  The 9-1-1 millage is about 0.85 mills. It will generate about $5.5 million a year, and we’re asking voters to renew it for the 2012 through the 2015 years.

POHL:  Was this where the money came from for the new 9-1-1 center?

LANNOYE:  The actual construction costs of the center were about $5.6million. We used about $2.5 million of millage money, and we borrowed about $3 million.

POHL:  So how is this money spent? Is it devoted to salaries for the staff there? Are there other expenses related to this one?

LANNOYE:  Yes, we’ll spend about $7 million a year on 9-1-1 operations. That would include the cost of the salaries and fringes of the folks who work there, and it would also include the cost of operating a very high-tech center.

Millage increase would fund senior, disabled transportation

POHL:  The third ballot proposal has to do with transportation for elderly and disabled residents of the county, and this one is a small increase.

LANNOYE:  Yes, this is an increase. Our current millage is 0.48 mills. We’re requesting an increase of 0.12 mills. Now, that 0.12 mills, for a homeowner with a taxable of about $100,000, they’d pay $12 a year.

The current levy would expire in 2015, and we’re requesting that this start immediately with the December tax levy and continue right along with that, with the original 0.48 mills. This was originally approved by the voters back in the ‘70s.

What happens if any are rejected?

POHL:  What do we know about what would happen if any of these proposals were to fail on primary election day?

LANNOYE:  Well, for the juvenile justice millage, we’d have a very large hole in our general fund budget. That means we’d have to cut services not only in the juvenile justice area, but probably all over the county budget. It also would pretty much devastate the programming that we’ve developed to date, which was very carefully crafted to provide better services and bring down our recidivism rate and keep our costs down.

On the 9-1-1 side, it’s dedicated just for 9-1-1 services. We have some cell phone surcharge revenue that gets put in that fund, too, but we’d have to either drastically reduce our services for 9-1-1 or, once again, have to figure out where in the general fund budget we’d have to get the money from.

POHL:  The transportation fund though, I gather, would continue as is if this increase were to fail.

LANNOYE:  It would continue, but as you know, with property tax revenues the way they have been, they’ve been declining, so the purpose of this increase was to keep them whole. So, it’s to prevent us from having to reduce services.