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August 14, 2013

Clawson places millage on Nov. ballot

By Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writer

CLAWSON — The City Council voted at its Aug. 6 meeting to place an additional 0.8482 mills tax levy proposal for garbage collection and disposal services on the Nov. 5 ballot.

The millage means residents living within a home valued at $100,000, with a $40,000 taxable value, would pay approximately $30 a year more in taxes, City Manager Mark Pollock said.

Currently, the city levies 2.15 mills for garbage removal, according to the city. If approved, it would increase the amount the city collects for garbage services to the maximum level allowed by state law.

City Manager Mark Pollock said the city has had to balance the garbage collection and disposal budget on the back of the general fund for the last few years.

“We have to make a transfer from the general fund to do it,” Pollock said.

The budget for garbage services is $72,000 — 55,000 of which comes from the general fund, he said.

“We’re at a point where we have to tap into the general fund to pay for services now,” Pollock said. “So we were kind of at a critical point.”

The city projects that, if approved by voters, the millage would bring in $275,000 in its first year.

Pollock said the additional money the millage would raise beyond balancing the garbage collection budget would be used to purchase single-stream recycling bins for residents — something Mayor Penny Luebs said she would like to see.

“It’s a win-win situation for any city because we are actually paid for our recyclables, whereas we have to pay a garbage company to take our garbage,” Luebs said. “So the more we recycle, the less we pay in our garbage bill.”

Because single-stream allows people to throw all recyclable materials into the same box without the need to separate them, Pollock thinks more people will recycle.

“The theory is, you’ll recycle more because it will be easier to do so,” Pollock said.

In the future, if the levy is projected to raise more than the city needs to pay for garbage service, the city will reduce the amount it levies for that year. But Pollock said the initial extra money will also be used to rebuild the service’s rainy day fund that was decimated throughout the recession.

“We may take a year or two to build up the reserve that we once had,” he said.

Pollock said that if the millage failed to pass, the city would have to start making cuts to various parts of the garbage service, including curbside yard waste pickup and the leaf pickup program, which he described as very costly to the city.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robert Guttersohn at rguttersohn@candgnews.com or at (586)218-5006.

Let me see if I have this right... garbage services costs $72,000 and a .8482 millage increase will generate $275,000? That would mean the current 2.15 mills should be generating around $700,000. If the current cost is $72,000, what is being done with that additional $628,000? Why is any increase even necessary? I don't understand. Can anyone help me out with this?