City ready to listen to tax talk


Grand Rapids city commissioners will give taxpayers a chance to chime in on the proposed city budget and new property tax millage rate.

Taxpayers will have that opportunity on the evening of June 11 when the commission meets at the Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church at 514 Eastern Ave. SE.

As it now stands, the property tax millage rate will rise July 1 by three ten-thousandths of a mill, or 0.0003 mills, to 8.1719 mills. The slight increase is proposed for the promotional portion of the tax levy, which would take it from 0.0113 mills to 0.0116 mills.

The general operating and capital, library operating and capital, and refuse levies are set to remain at last year’s levels.

City CFO Scott Buhrer said the average taxable value of a residence in the city is $44,592. At the new proposed millage, the average tax bill would be $364.40. “That’s approximately $8 lower than last year,” he said.

Even with a higher millage rate, Buhrer pointed out the average tax bill would be lower because the average taxable value in the city fell by about $1,000 last year. The average residential tax bill a year ago was $372.33, or $7.97 higher than this year’s proposed bill.

The proposed millage rate of 8.1719 mills, or $8.17 for every $1,000 in taxable value, is well below the 9.3430 mills the city can charge under state law and its charter.

The city’s proposed budget is $382.8 million, with general operations expected to capture $118.3 million of that amount for the upcoming fiscal year that starts July 1. The police department is expected to get nearly $50.8 million for FY14, while the fire department is likely to receive $28.1 million.

City commissioners have at least three more budget meetings on their agenda, with the final one set for June 4.

In a related matter, Buhrer told commissioners the city’s fiscal team was honored by the General Finance Officers Association of the U.S. and Canada with a distinguished budget award for its latest financial planning document.

Buhrer said the plan serves as an operational and communications document. “This document is filled with a lot of facts about the city and how we allocate funds,” he said.

This year’s GFOA award marks the 25th consecutive year the city has earned the honor.

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