GRAND RAPIDS — Kent County commissioners changed this year’s property tax billing dates last week to keep in step with changes state lawmakers made to the general property tax act last year.
The date change means that property tax bills worth one-third of an annual levy will be mailed starting July 1.
The county, which opposed the switch in dates, will levy 1.4267 mills of the 4.2803 mills it levies annually next month, with the remaining 2.8536 mills levied in December. All collected tax dollars go into the county’s general operating fund.
“All we’re doing is taking money out of the taxpayers’ pockets early and putting it into our account,” said County Commissioner Harold Voorhees. “But there is nothing that we can do about it.”
The concern that commissioners have is that the new billing date comes too near to the last one, and they fear that some homeowners may not have enough equity on hand to make the payment.
An owner of a building valued at $100,000 will receive a tax bill of $142.67 in July and a December bill of $388.73. If legislators hadn’t amended the act, that same owner would have received a property tax bill of $531.40 in December. Next year two-thirds of the property tax will be due in July and a third in December. In 2007, the entire bill will come due in July.
“Over the three-year period, the general operating levy will move from winter to summer,” said Robert White, fiscal services director for the county.
County commissioners also agreed last week to renew the lease the city has for the Paul I. Phillips Recreation Center at 415 Franklin St. SE — but for one year, not for three years as the city had requested and as the county has done in the past.
The county charges the city $1 a year to lease the building and pays the $70,000 tab for utilities and maintenance, while the city pays for the staff and funds the recreational programs. Because of that total investment, county commissioners want to review the lease each year.
Commissioner Jack Boelema said if the board didn’t approve the lease, the programs that 30,000 residents enjoy each year would likely end due to the city’s financial situation. Commissioner Fritz Wahlfield said the county has little use for the gymnasium in the center, other than for storage. And County Administrator Daryl Delabbio added that the center is open to all county residents.
“Spending $70,000 so 30,000 kids can have the place is money well spent,” said Roger Morgan, county commission vice chairman.
The city has leased the Phillips Recreation Center from the county for a $1 a year since 1974. Residents have access to basketball, volleyball, table tennis, fitness activities, weight rooms, game rooms, exercise bikes, treadmills and an elliptical trainer at the center.