According to data from The Rapid, the average speed of the new Silver Line bus rapid transit (BRT) route in Grand Rapids will be about 17 miles per hour. Peter Varga, the head of The Rapid bus system, says that the speed will be about 22 miles per hour along Division and about 10 miles per hour on the rest of its route. Despite the usage of the term bus “rapid” transit, this is only slightly faster than the average bus that The Rapid operates, and is slower than about a quarter of its existing routes.
Permanent link to this article: http://www.kentcountytaxpayers.org/how-fast-will-the-rapids-silver-line-bus-be/
Today the Kent County Taxpayers Alliance called on Grand Rapids city leaders to take a stand against the appearance of impropriety in regards to the upcoming city income tax increase election on May 6. According to an article in the Grand Rapids Press, the campaign urging a “yes” vote is largely funded by private companies that appear set to gain significant revenue from the city if the tax increase passes.
“We believe that the Grand Rapids city commission should stand up and show that they reject any appearance of impropriety by passing a resolution barring any company that contributes to their tax increase campaign from bidding on city projects that result from the tax increase,” said Eric Larson, spokesperson of the Kent County Taxpayers Alliance.
Of the over $23,000 that the “yes” campaign has raised, nearly two thirds was raised from companies that appear to stand to directly benefit from the city’s proposed spending plan, including construction, lobbying, and engineering firms.
“Millions of dollars of spending is on the line,” said Larson, “and it’s only right for city leaders to distance themselves from appearing to reward those who donate to political campaigns. Taxpayers need to be confident that the process isn’t corrupted.”
KCTA also notes that City Commissioner Walt Gutowski, who owns Swift Printing and voted in favor of putting the issue on the ballot, is directly and personally benefiting from the “yes” campaign. More than $6,500 has been spent with his company for campaign materials by those favoring passage of the tax increase.
Permanent link to this article: http://www.kentcountytaxpayers.org/kcta-calls-on-grand-rapids-city-leaders-to-avoid-the-appearance-of-impropriety/
Michigan homeowners have the right to appeal their assessments to the local board of review if they feel the assessment is incorrect. It is important to note that many review boards meet in March, but dates vary by each municipality, so be sure to contact your local assessor. Newly-enacted legislation requires the assessment notice to be mailed out at least 14 days before your local board of review meets.
The property tax appeal process has a very tight window and each municipality does things slightly differently. For instance, in the City of Grand Rapids, you must first submit the attached form to the Assessor’s Office for an Assessor’s Review. The deadline this year is February 14, 2014. The Assessor may accept or reject your appeal, at which time you can request a meeting with the March Board of Review. If you’re not happy with the March Board of Review result, you may appeal to the Michigan Tax Tribunal.
Steps for Appealing
- Immediately contact your city, village, or township assessor’s office and ask about their assessment appeal process. They may have a form for you to fill out and they will tell you their submission deadlines. These deadlines are very strict, so you must have your form submitted before the deadline. Simply mailing before the deadline does not count.
- Obtain a copy of your property tax worksheet or appraisal card. This is available from the local assessor’s office. The worksheet lists information such as size of house, style, number of baths, etc. Ask the assessing department to fully explain how to read the document. You may also obtain worksheets for similar properties which recently sold in the area to help determine the value of your property. Many cities put this information online.
- Carefully check the worksheet for errors. If you notice any errors, the assessor may agree to change some of the information or figures at that time. If not, you will have to make your case with the board of review. Your worksheet may include a “percent good” calculation which shows how much your home has depreciated. For example, a 10-year-old house may be listed as 90 percent good. Percent good is another factor to use when comparing your home to other homes.
- Check with your local assessor regarding your home’s taxable value. For property tax year 2011, the inflation rate multiplier is equal to the ratio of fiscal year 2010 average consumer price index divided by the fiscal year 2009 average consumer price index. Again, as a result of Proposal A (and therefore under the State Constitution), a property’s taxable value cannot increase by more than the increase in the U.S. consumer price index or 5 percent, whichever is less. In addition, a property’s taxable value cannot exceed its state equalized value.
- Inspect the inside of your home. As noted in Step 3, the “percent good” is the way an assessor depreciates the value of a home based on its age, meaning normal issues common to older homes are not considered in the specifics of the assessment. However, problems not associated with general aging, such as a cracked foundation or wall construction problems, should be specifically addressed in your appeal. Written repair estimates and photographs of structural damage are good evidence of defects which could affect property value.
- Note changes to your neighborhood. Realtors say location is the single most important feature in determining the value of your home. If you live near a major road or in a mixed-use zoning area, for example, your home may be less desirable than the same home in a purely residential neighborhood. If the characteristics of your neighborhood have changed, obtain copies of citizen complaints about excessive noise or eyesores and show this evidence to the board.
- If you recently purchased or refinanced your home, determine whether your purchase price or your appraisal is lower than two times your SEV. Providing this documentation to the board of review does not guarantee a lower assessment, but it will help strengthen your case.
- Inform your assessor about personal property included in the sale price of your home and detailed on the purchase agreement. One of the most common mistakes home buyers can make is to fail to inform the assessor of personal property and other valuable items included in the sale and detailed on the purchase agreement. Personal property items often included in a home’s sale price, such as furniture, curtains, a washer or dryer, etc., are exempt from assessment. If you did not inform your assessor in writing about these items, your assessment may erroneously include this value.
- Compare your property to similar homes in the area, especially those that recently sold. Comparable property assessments are one of the most important tools when appealing your property assessment. If comparable properties are assessed lower than yours, your home may be over-assessed. Check the assessed value, type of house, and zoning. Compare the true cash value per square foot. Keep in mind that comparisons should only be made between similar types of homes. (Compare two stories with two stories, ranch houses with other ranch houses, etc). An excellent online tool for looking at homes that recently sold in your area is available on the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors web site at www.grar.com and click on “Find Prices of Recently Sold Homes!”
- Either write a letter to the assessor or use the form they provide. A sample appeal letter is attached.
Permanent link to this article: http://www.kentcountytaxpayers.org/tips-for-appealing-your-2014-property-tax-assessment/
Permanent link to this article: http://www.kentcountytaxpayers.org/new-kent-county-open-government-project-web-page-released-compare-tax-rates-schools-and-transparency/
Permanent link to this article: http://www.kentcountytaxpayers.org/sweetheart-transfer-of-160-tax-foreclosed-properties-to-the-taxpayer-funded-kent-county-land-bank-authority-by-the-city-of-grand-rapids-is-bad-for-taxpayers-and-bad-for-city-government/
Permanent link to this article: http://www.kentcountytaxpayers.org/new-poll-shows-grand-rapids-tax-increases-face-steep-climb-and-land-bank-lacks-public-support/
Under pressure from KCTA, Wyoming Public Schools moves millage election to November, re-evaluates tax request amount
Wyoming Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Reeder announced this week that he is asking the school district’s board to reconsider the tax increase request it approved last week. The board previously decided to ask voters to approve the exact same millage issue in August of this year that failed at the ballot earlier this month. The failed request would have raised $53 million for the school district. This sort of rapid-fire tax increase attack on voters is referred to by the Kent County Taxpayers Alliance as an abusive tax election.
Upon learning about this abusive tax election request, the Kent County Taxpayers Alliance announced that it would oppose the Wyoming Public Schools ballot issue in August. KCTA pointed out that the school district’s leadership claimed it wanted maximum participation of the community, yet the district defended the use of a May election in the first place. May elections traditionally are very low turnout. KCTA supports holding tax elections only in August or November, when most voters expect to be voting.
Now, under pressure from KCTA, the district’s leadership has abruptly changed course and is rethinking the decision it made just last week. The new millage request will be held in November of this year and the total amount is being re-evaluated so that it will appeal to more voters.
“We applaud the school district’s leadership for rethinking its abusive tax election request,” said Jeff Steinport, spokesperson for KCTA. “Taxpayers deserve better than to be beaten over the head with successive, identical tax elections. The school district is doing the right thing in evaluating its needs and coming back to the community, hat in hand, with a more modest proposal.”
Permanent link to this article: http://www.kentcountytaxpayers.org/under-pressure-from-kcta-wyoming-public-schools-moves-millage-election-to-november-re-evaluates-tax-request-amount/
The Kent County Taxpayers Alliance today announced that it will oppose Wyoming Public Schools’ abusive tax election in August of this year. The Wyoming Schools’ millage increase attempt on May 7th was defeated at the polls, yet the school district will attempt to get voters to pass the very same tax increase in August of this year.
Such rapid-fire elections, scheduled in an attempt to get voters to pass an issue that was already defeated, are a waste of taxpayer dollars and are referred to by KCTA as abusive elections.
“Wyoming Public Schools tried an abusive election in 2011, when their attempt at a tax increase failed in May of that year,” said Jeff Steinport, spokesperson for KCTA. “The district returned to voters in August of the same year, just three months later, and it was defeated even more resoundingly. (58-42% and then 63-37%)”
The Kent County Taxpayers Alliance successfully engaged in a get out the vote effort for the August 2011 election in Wyoming to inform voters of the school district’s abusive election tactics.
Wyoming Public Schools’ superintendent Thomas Reeder is quoted as saying that he wants true representation of the public at the next election. “This begs the question,” said Steinport, “If the district’s leadership wants maximum participation by the public, it should have chosen November, for its tax increase election in the first place.
“If the government school leaders were honest, they would recognize the folly of their argument. Godfrey Lee Schools only had 6% turnout, were those positive results invalid? And if the Wyoming millage question had passed, would the board have voted to re-ask the question with only 11% turnout? The decision by the school board to rerun the election shows a total disregard and almost contempt for those who took the time to vote. They are clearly not interested in the democratic process.”
KCTA also successfully fought an abusive tax election held by Grand Rapids Community College in August of 2007, just three months after the same tax issue was defeated in May of that year.
Permanent link to this article: http://www.kentcountytaxpayers.org/kcta-to-oppose-wyoming-public-schools-august-abusive-tax-election/
Permanent link to this article: http://www.kentcountytaxpayers.org/kent-county-land-bank-changes-are-a-step-in-the-right-direction/
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