Sunday, October 08, 2006

Leelanau Operations Millage: Why are we Broke?

The scary thing about the upcoming operations millage is that almost nobody is aware of it. The decision to hold the millage was made late, with so much equivocation by the Board of Commissioners, that most people lost interest or think that the millage was cancelled. The Farmland Preservation Millage is getting lots of publicity, but the Operations Millage (which also funds the Farmland Preservation Board) gets lost in the noise.

There have been signs of trouble in the operations budget. In the 2003 budget, Leelanau County cut out cost-of-living raises in order to balance the budget. Local governments saw a small decrease in state revenue sharing that year, but were able to absorb the loss.

This also was the year that we voted to start collecting the $2.12 per month 911 surcharge on our phone bills to fund our new, upgraded 911 service. Not much was said about the "sunset" provision of this revenue, which is now expiring, leaving a $800,000 hole in the operations budget.

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