Sparta — Sparta Township Council held a budget meeting early Saturday, March 11. The council discussed the new budget proposal and what the expenses will be going foward.
“We’re talking right now a 1.4% tax increase… [which means] a $35 increase to the average resident,” Township Manager William Close said. The average assessed home value in the district is $370,700.
Township officials discussed preliminary budget figures. The proposed municipal budget will not be introduced until later this month. Public heatrings will then follow before the governing body adopts a spending plan for the year.
The preliminary municipal budget figure for 2017 is $26,708,433. This is an increase of $860,251 over the 2016 municipal budget. The amount to be raised by taxation for the new budget would increased by $254,957 over the 2016 figure if the current budget is adopted.
The tax rate increase would be one penny (0.6167 for 2017 compared to 0.6076 for 2016) per hundred dollars of assessed home value. This is where the average $35 tax increase comes from.
The new budget is below the 2% levy increase cap established by the state and therefore does not need a waiver.
“We were successful at stabilizing the tax rate and at the same time adding services beneficial to the community,” Township Manager William Close said.
The budget proposal would include the purchase of three new police vehicles, a new dump truck for the Department of Public Works, a new pick-up truck for the Parks Department, the hiring of four new police officers to replace those retiring, the hiring of a new Parks Department/Department of Public Works employee, and various improvements to roadways, parking lots, guard rails and fields.
One issue brought up by a council member at the meeting was the repair of the Station Park bridge.
“An engineering study is being done on all our bridges… we’re hopeful to do the repairs [on the Station Park bridge] and get it done by the end of the year,” Close said.
“This budget provides for four police officers as we’ve had three retirements. At the end of the year it might be prudent to add a fifth,” Close said. “We also have one new parks person in this budget. We have a lot of public facilities. We have to keep them in a safe condition and an attractive one.”
Other budget considerations include money allocated for web design, backup power on the second floor of the municipal building, and improvements to White Lake soccer fields.
Municipal taxes make up one part of the total tax levy — the amount paid through property taxes — with school taxes and county taxes making up the rest of the bill. In 2016, municipal taxes in Sparta accounted for a little over 18 percent of the total tax levy.