Saline City Council Notebook: Tax Abatements, Sculptures and More

 08/23/2013 - 01:32

The following news briefs come from Monday's Saline City Council meeting.

Council Mulls Over Tax Breaks As State Considers Wiping Out PPT

Saline City Council and the city's Special Projects Commission met at 6:30 for a discussion on how to proceed with requests for tax breaks as the state plans to eliminate personal property taxes.

Attorney Scott Smith said state government wasn't to eliminate the Personal Property Tax to prevent mobile businesses from abandoning Michigan in favor of states without the tax.
“The thinking is that everyone will benefit if we improve the business climate,” Smith told the joint workshop.

Cities like Saline, which worked for years to attract industry and the tax dollars it brings, stand to lose 20 percent of their tax revenue if the PPT is phased out by 2022, though the state is promising to fill 80 percent of that hole by redirecting use tax revenue. Michigan voters will decide the fate of the proposal in the August 2014 election. Some fear that if Michigan voters reject the proposal, the lame duck Republican government will ram more punitive legislation through the legislature.

Much of Monday's discussion centered around a city provision that gives the city to terminate tax breaks if PPT is eliminated.

Attorney Smith said that businesses like predictability, and that such a clause could scare business away. Councilor Lee Bourgoin said he wasn't sure the city would ever use the provision, but he wanted the city to have flexibility.

“It seems to me that we want to have some ammunition. Putting the community in a helpless position is not advantageous,” Bourgoin said.

The city has had the provision on the books but never used it. It did use a claw back provision when Chelsea Industries closed.

Mary Hess, a member of the Special Projects Commission, said the city began using the provision to protect itself 20 years ago when the government began making noise about changing Personal Property Tax.

More work on the tax abatement process will continue at the next meeting of the Special Projects Commission.

No Sculpture Walk in Saline

Councilor Linda TerHaar said the city's Arts & Culture Committee has concluded it will not hold an annual Sculpture Walk. The committee held its first sculpture walk last year when Chelsea artist Rick Detroyer granted the city use of several sculptures. TerHaar said response to plans for a second sculpture walk was limited. TerHaar said the Arts & Culture Committee is impressed with Tecumseh's sculpture walk and that it can't put on an event of that caliber using the city's small budget.

The committee is moving forward with a plan to move a bust of city founder Orange Risdon from inside city hall to an outdoor location. The plans have not yet been finalized.

Fire Board Vacancy

Councilor Jim Peters said the Saline Area Fire Board has a vacancy. A board member must live in the district (City of Saline, or Saline, Lodi or York townships). Board members oversee the Saline Area Fire Department. The board meets four times a year.

Environmental Commission Works at the Farmers Market

Councilor David Rhoads said members of the environmental commission see much interest in environmental issues. Commission representatives have a table at the Saline Farmers Market.

Main Street Survey

Councilor Dean Girbach said volunteers are conducting “intercept” surveys on Downtown Saline for Saline Main Street. The “person-in-the-street” surveys take about 10 minutes, Girbach said. Girbach urged people to approach volunteer surveyors and share their thoughts about downtown.

German Dinner Sept. 6

The annual German Dinner benefiting the Saline-Lindenberg Friendship Guild takes place 7 p.m., Sept. 6, at the American Legion Hall. Cost is $20. Call Jim Roth at 429-4063 for more information.

Tran Longmoore
Tran Longmoore founded The Saline Post on Aug. 15, 2012. Follow him on Twitter at @tranlongmoore. Follow The Saline Post @thesalinepost. Follow The Saline Post on Facebook by clicking here.