The Kent County Taxpayers Alliance, a non-partisan, nonprofit advocacy group that formed in 2007, has recently revitalized a free online presence the organization hopes will draw a lot of virtual attention.
The website, opengovernmentproject.org, allows residents to compare the average tax rate for 93 taxing jurisdictions in the county, along with the graduation and spending rates for the county’s 27 public school districts.
“The new features are beyond anything we’ve seen for any taxpayer organization in Michigan. We’re proud of the hard work that went into the site and we know that it will be useful for all Kent County residents,” said Jeff Steinport, spokesman for the KCTA, in a statement.
The tax rates for each village, township and city in the county are available at the site. It also reveals which public school districts overlap into more than one governmental unit and which districts offer the best educational performance for the lowest cost.
As an example, Steinport pointed out that Caledonia Community Schools had the highest graduation rate in the county at 95 percent. Part of the school district reaches into Lowell Township, which had the 77th lowest tax rate of the county’s 93 taxing jurisdictions. So Lowell Township residents are paying among the lowest taxes countywide while their children are getting a good education.
The website also ranks each of the units of government in the county across 24 areas of transparency, and then gives each one a letter grade.
According to the website, the city of Wyoming was at the top and was given an A for its transparency. The villages of Sand Lake and Casnovia were rated as the poorest as far as being transparent was concerned; both were awarded an F.
Other statistics on the site reveal that the highest taxes in the county can be found in the portion of the city of Grand Rapids that lies in the Forest Hills Public School District. There, the average annual tax bill is $3,403.
On the other side of the tax ledger is the part of Solon Township that reaches into the Tri County Area School District, where the average yearly tax bill is the county’s lowest at $1,466.