May, Not November, Now Looking More Likely for Senior Millage Vote in Kalamazoo

Aug 2, 2017

Credit Tom Arthur / Wikicommons

A senior millage is still on the table in Kalamazoo County, but it won’t be on the November ballot. Instead, commissioners now seem likely to put the issue before voters in the May 2018 election.

Supporters of such a tax have packed recent county meetings, and the board had appeared poised to approve a request for November. But on Wednesday, even commissioners who want to see such a millage said they first need to work out the details.

Commissioner Mike Seals said a November ask might take voters by surprise.

“I’m not used to having things rushed through to the point where we don’t even have the public involved enough to understand what we’re trying to do. And I think that’s when a lot of millages fail,” he said.

Most importantly the board still has to decide how much money to request.

The property tax would help to pay for a variety of programs, such as those that enable people to live at home rather than a nursing home. Local nonprofits say a millage could help many seniors get care that they need.

But not every board member favors the idea. Commissioner Scott McGraw says the tax could burden seniors.

“And I beg to differ that you know, the county needs to absorb all the money to keep people out of nursing homes. I mean, that’s a federal issue, that’s a state issue,” he said.

The county health department says seniors are the fastest-growing group in the county, and the need for services will only go up. Kalamazoo is one of 10 counties in Michigan that does not levy a senior millage.