Ballot language regarding TIF district raises concerns for some voters

Dennis Mansfield, Contributing Writer

KALKASKA - Voters from around Kalkaska County will be voting on a trio of millage renewal requests when they go to the polls on Tuesday, Aug. 6.

The future of the Village of Kalkaska Downtown Development Authority’s tax increment finance, or TIF, district won’t be one of them. However, the inclusion of just one sentence in two of the three proposals regarding the village’s TIF district seemingly could confuse some voters, as it reportedly has in the past elections.

In requests to renew the road maintenance and improvement millage and Kalkaska County Commission on Aging millage, it states that “a portion of the millage may be disbursed to the Downtown Development Authority of the Village of Kalkaska.”

Under state law, a municipality may create a TIF district in order capture growth in property tax values and then use that revenue for a variety of projects, usually focused on stimulating economically-depressed areas.

But, District No. 3 Kohn Fisher, the current chairman of the Kalkaska County Board of Commissioners, said inclusion of language for the TIF district – which is required by state law – may have helped in the May defeat of a 20-year, 1.5-mill proposal that would have funded the renovation and operation of the Kaliseum Recreation Complex.

In traveling to township meetings, Fisher said voters were concerned that tax dollars from their township would be used for village projects, rather than 100 percent of it going to the Kaliseum.

“Even leading up to (the May vote), we became keenly aware of it,” he added. “The DDA’s TIF district capturing tax revenue kept coming up.”

According to Fisher, some township voters were “adamantly against” voting to support the DDA with their tax dollars. That was despite attempts by county officials to educate voters that the DDA only received tax revenue captured from within the limited boundaries of the TIF district within the village.

“This is just legal language what has to be added in,” Fisher said. “So, you try to tell them to step back and look at the overall focus of the ballot issue.”

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