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Townships requesting to levy taxes over the statutory authorized millage amounts must have the electors vote to approve such millage. This includes any additional millage for general operating or a specific purpose, such as fire departments, police departments, park or roads. The electors of the Township approve the millage at an election.
Before the electors can approve the millage, however, the Township must approve the language that will be placed on the ballot. There are specific requirements that must be included in the ballot language, including (a) the millage rate authorized, (b) the estimated amount of revenue that will be collected in the first year the millage is authorized and levied, (c) the duration of the millage in years, (d) a clear statement of the purpose of the millage, and (e) a clear statement indicating whether it is a renewal or increase of an existing millage or an increase imposing a new millage.
There are numerous complexities that arise in fulfilling any of the above requirements. For instance, the millage rate authorized includes consideration of the Headlee Amendment and whether any potential rollbacks must be addressed. The calculation of the estimated amount of the revenue further includes consideration of whether other entities, including tax-increment financing authorities, would be capturing some part of the revenue. If so, the ballot language must educate the elector on that issue. There are also issues with determining the first year of the levy (as well as the last), and correctly stating the purpose of the millage. This latter part maybe key in guaranteeing that the millage collected can be used for the issues that are present now and in the future.
The requirements of state law do not impose any township to have an attorney review its ballot language for a proposed extra-voted millage. But, there are numerous complexities and potential legal problems that could result from imprecise drafting of ballot language. Thus, it is important to consult with a township attorney before approving any ballot proposals for extra-voted millage.
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