Someone I know recently received their 2021 winter property tax bill for Kalamazoo County.  When they opened their bill their jaws dropped.  What they saw was one of the County's taxes increased by approximately 664%, yes you read that correctly the tax increased 664%.

Which tax?  It was the County Housing tax. Let go back to the Kalamazoo County 2020 Winter Property Tax Statements.  On that tax statement, the Kalamazoo County Housing tax rate was .09930 mills.  The person I know who lives in Kalamazoo County tax on their property for that millage rate was $11.73.  Now let us fast forward one year later to the Kalamazoo County 2021 Winter Property Tax Statements.  On that tax statement, the Kalamazoo County Housing tax rate was .74850 mills.  The tax on that same property rose from $11.73 to $89.71.  That is an increase of $77.98 or 664%.

Yes, the people of Kalamazoo County voted for a 664% tax increase on themselves.

Did the residents of Kalamazoo County realize that they voted in a 664% tax increase?  Not the way the County represented the tax increase on any information sheet they provided to the public or on the ballot. The following was the language on the ballot concerning this 664% tax increase.

Courtesy of Kalamazoo County
Courtesy of Kalamazoo County
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Is it the Kalamazoo County official’s fault for the tax increase, not really?  Anyone could have researched the ballot question and determined they were asking for an extremely large increase of tax cash into their budget.

Is it the Kalamazoo County official’s fault for not presenting the public with the true tax increase of this millage in any of their official documentation about this tax increase they distributed to the public?

That is for you to decide.  If you decide they were deceitful in their presentation of the tax increase, then ask yourself what you will do about it.  Will you ever vote for another Kalamazoo County tax increase?

The question I have is not whether the incredibly large tax increase was warranted or needed.  It is whether the Kalamazoo County officials should have been more upfront on what the actual increase was.  For instance, in the official documentation they presented to the voting public they could have written that the increase of the millage would go from .09930 to .74850/.75000. I could not find the .09930 millage rate in any of the official documentation they presented to the residents of Kalamazoo County.

Another question is would the increase in the millage have passed if the voting public were made aware of the 664% increase?

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