|CASEVILLE'S QUEST FOR INCORPORATION AS A CLASS 5 CITY|
Incorporation of the Village as a City has been a topic of conversation for years. In September 2002, Council formed a committee to study the feasibility of becoming a city. Nine citizens - not elected officials - met with one councilman to explore the question of City vs. Village status. These citizens were not of the same opinion or temperament. Some were in favor, others were adamantly opposed to incorporation. This was not a "rubber stamp" committee.
The issue was examined, researched and debated by the committee. In its report to the Village Council, dated October 31, 2002, the committee unanimously recommended incorporation as a Class 5 City.
The report was published by the Village and mailed to all qualified electors, property owners and residents in the village. Copies of this report are available in the Village Office.
On December 7, 2002 the Village Council held a Public Hearing in the school auditorium. The purpose of the hearing was "to gain public input regarding incorporation of the Village of Caseville as a Home Rule City pursuant to Act 279 of 1909. (To change from a Home Rule Village to a Home Rule City)"
THE PROCESS: Our Timeline To Incorporation
There is a wrinkle in this timeline: The State Boundary Commission sets the dates for hearings, filing of information or petitions and elections. However, the manner and method of any election in the State of Michigan has been changed with the passing and enactment of the Election Consolidation Act. Elections may be held on only four (4) dates per year and must be conducted by the Township or City Clerk. Villages are permitted to run one election every two (2) years and only if a resolution was adopted by the Council and filed with the State (Yes, our Council did that).
WHY DOES THIS PROCESS TAKE SO LONG?
Preparation of a thorough and complete petition file takes time. Incorporation process usually takes a few years.
At each step there have been unforseen delays. For example there was a major staffing change in the Boundary Commission Office. It took time for the new staff to adjust to the position and operate at peak efficiency. There were Boundary Commission Board vacancies to fill and appointments to be made at both the state and county levels. The rules changed: the State Legislature passed the Election Concolidation Act in 1999 that changed timelines and requirements for elections.
While there are basically only three stages for incorporation, each phase has several components. The state law lists each phase -Approval for Incorporation, Referendum (vote on the issue) and Adoption of Charter and then further details each step involved in each of the phases. Looking at the list, it averages 9 months per phase with a time limit of 2 years after the Border Commission gives the go-ahead.
FAQ: HOME RULE CITY vs HOME RULE VILLAGE
What is a Home Rule City? A city governed by a Charter that been approved by the voters. Townships and cities are the basic level of government in the State of Michigan. Villages are subdivisions of townships. There are different types of cities based on size. If the village were to incorporate, it will be a Class 5 City with a population of more than 750 but less than 2,000. Our population is 888 according to the 2000 census.
What are we now? A Home Rule Village with a Charter adopted by the voters February 14, 1989. Villages may be General Law (as established by State Law) or Home Rule (by Charter)
What happens to my taxes? Right now villagers pay a General Operation tax to the Village (payable July 1st - Sept 14th), the School Education Tax (SET) to the township in the summer and the remainder of the taxes to the township in the winter. The village tax is the revenue for the village. The township collects taxes for the State, the county, the township and schools. When the village becomes a city, it will collect and distribute all taxes levied in the village.
Keep in mind: No matter who does the collection, school, state and county taxes have to be paid.
Could there be changes in the taxes? Of course. We would not pay a tax to the township. Some of the millage currently levied by the township would be collected by the city (example the Fire Authority). The township charges a 1% administrative fee on the taxes it collects. The Village does not.
So how does this affect me? Right off the top - Voting and Taxes
VOTING: The Township Clerk is authorized to conduct all elections for the village except for the one Village General Election every 2 years.
TAXES: There are two issues here: Assessing (establishing the tax base) and collection of monies.
Assessing / Tax Base: The basis for taxes is the value of the property (SEV). The Assessor's job is to determine that value. The Board of Review is the local board for taxpayers appealling their assessment. Once the value has been set, then the taxable value is established (which may be all of the SEV or that percentage allowable by law). Multiply the millage times the taxable value and you have your tax amount. Right now the Township Assessor and Township Board of Review establish the values. As a city, we would have our own assessor and a Board of Review consisting of city residents.
Collection: A Village may levy a millage for operation of that village, while the township collects taxes for township, county, state, and school millages. As a city, all taxes would be collected by the city. No more confusion...It would eliminate the question WHERE DO I PAY THIS TIME?
There is a duplication of services for village people. We fund the operation of our village and also pay taxes for the operation of the township. This duplication would end when we become a city.
What do you mean "Self-determination'? We could structure our government to fit our needs. As a city we assume the responsibility to run our own elections - local, state and federal; and hire our own assessor and Board of Review for the city. Financial and funding opportunities change also.
Why change? It boils down to two basic issues: finances and self-determination. As a city, we are responsible for ourselves, for all functions of the government.
Talk to our elected officials about this matter. They can / will schedule appointments to come to your home and discuss the issue. An informational DVD and power point presentation were prepared for the SBC Public Hearing. The council members will bring these items to you...have some neighbors in at the same time -- discuss the proposal.
Be involved - this is one time when you can really influence the future of our community.
Current Status: The Charter Commission has drafted the proposed Charter. The next step is to submit the Charter to the Governor's Office for review and approval.
Charter was approved by Governor. Village voters approved City Charter on Feb. 23, 2010.
We are a City!