Meeting Overview: Kalamazoo County Commission Adopts 2023 Operating Budget of $120 Million

On Tuesday, September 20, the Kalamazoo County Commission meeting was surprisingly quick and quiet. 

On Tuesday, September 20, the Kalamazoo County Commission meeting was surprisingly quick and quiet. It led Commissioner- Tracy Hall expressing that, “I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone since it has been the most anti-climatic passing of the budget ever.”

 

The highlight of the meeting was adopting the 350-page 2023 operating budget of $120 Million, passing with only two in opposition. There was a 4.5% increase over the previous 2022 budget of $115 Million.

 

However, because of rising property values and inflation, this operating budget results in no change in the actual property tax rate, as seen in our “summer taxes” remaining at 4.6318 mills in 2023. The same as in 2022 and down from 4.6514 mills in 2021.

 

Another financial item that passed with only one in opposition was reaffirming the additional property tax levies, which appear in our “winter taxes” and voters approved in 2006, 2018, 2020, and 2022. 

The additional levies that will appear in our January 2023 tax bill:

  • 1.4380 mills for special law enforcement
  • 0.1613 mills for the Juvenile Home Construction
  • 0.7453 mills for the Kalamazoo County Local Housing Assistance Fund
  • 0.3462 mills for the Kalamazoo County Senior Millage
  • 0.6459 mills to cover the expenses for the operation of 9-1-1

 

The combined property tax rate of 3.3367 mills is also less than the previous winter 2021 rate of 3.3514 mills. The 2021 “winter property tax” bill is slightly confusing because it is due in February 2022.

 

I should remind the reader that Kalamazoo County property values have generally increased over the last few years, even though the tax rate has decreased and the total tax payment will still grow. Some of this is further affected by the Michigan state constitution’s 1978 Headlee Amendment, which protects property owners from their property taxes getting out of hand simply because property values are increasing more than the general inflation rate.

 

Other items passed at the meeting included housekeeping for a few employee positions, funding allocations for a handful of county agencies, and changing the land use restriction after successfully cleaning up contaminated ground from underground storage tanks at 1226 Lamont Ave.

 

Finally, one public comment stood out. The County Board of Commissioners will reduce from eleven members to nine. The commenter pointed out that during the Sept 6 meeting, the board voted to reallocate the total salary budget in its entirety to the remaining nine members. It gives an example of the equivalent of giving the commissioners a rather significant 22% pay raise.