Changes to tax assessment legislation more friendly to local units
LAKE COUNTY — For the past few months, townships and municipalities in Lake County have expressed concern over House Bill No. 6049 and Senate Bill 1025, which seeks to restructure the tax assessing qualifications, process and boundaries of local assessing units in Michigan. Recently, legislators agreed upon changes to the legislation to make it more friendly to local units.
When the 26-page legislation was introduced earlier this year, local authorities feared the measure would take control away from townships and local units and impose a financial burden on Lake County because the mandates would require increased staffing levels, administration fees and start-up funding to compensate for expenses to accompany the new mandates.
The bill also had potential to strip supervisors and local assessors of control over the tax assessing process, and require a full-time assessor at the skill level of a No. 3 or No. 4 assessor, requiring more education and higher qualifications.
The bill also would put Lake County at odds with local townships by requiring the county to take a 1-percent administration fee from the local units to pay for increased cost. The legislation also would change the manner local board of reviews are conducted, placing them at a county level.
On June 11, the Lake County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution opposing the legislation. During the Lake County Township Association meeting in August, township officials throughout the county voiced disapproval to the legislation, some drawing up resolutions opposing the bills, including Webber Township during their September meeting.
At the Webber Township meeting last Thursday, a report was given announcing changes to the legislation which eases the burden on local municipalities. On Sept.18, state officials met in Lansing to adjust the bill, including changes announced by the Michigan Assessors Association.
Some of the changes include the following:
• Whereas assessors were required a physical presence of eight hours per week, they now are to just establish an availability and accessibility policy.
• The requirement of a full-time assessor was removed, and now an assessor will just be required to provide reasonable availability to the assessing district.
• The original legislation prohibited supervisors as assessors. This measure was removed, but local assessors must maintain quality standards.
• The requirement for a level 3 or 4 assessor has been removed.
• A requirement for online access to information has been changed to reflect internet accessibility to local units.
• A pre-board of review requirement has changed to become an informal process to resolve property record inaccuracies without requiring a taxpayer to attend the Michigan Board of Review.
• The dedication of the administration fee is now part of evaluation process to ensure those levying are using it for its intended purpose.
• The requirement for specialized and regional board of review has been removed.
“People spoke up against the extreme measures in the original bill, and now legislators are coming up with measures that are more favorable for local units,” said Webber Township Supervisor Ernie Wogatzke.