Renewing the Veterans Services Village would cost just over $1.3 million. Proponents say it’s crucial funding, others say the money shouldn’t raise taxes.
KENT COUNTY, Michigan — With less than a week to go until the Aug. 2 primary election, voters are gearing up to head to the polls. More than just party candidates, Tuesday’s poll will focus on local issues such as tax miles specific to each voter’s jurisdiction. In Kent County, one such mileage proposal is the 2014 Veterans Service Mileage Renewal.
As it is written on the ballot, the mileage is “EQUAL TO FIVE CENTS PER $1,000 OF THE TAXABLE VALUE OF ALL REAL ESTATE AND PERSONAL PROPERTY SUBJECT TO TAXATION FOR THE PERIOD 2022 TO 2029.”
This means that someone who owns a property valued at $200,000 will pay $10 more per year for the next 7 years. In total, the estimated cost in the first year would be $1,327,856.
“If the mileage doesn’t go through, then many of the partnerships that were funded by Kent County Veterans Services grants will disappear,” said Paul Ryan with Citizens Supporting Kent County Veterans. “Kent County Veterans Treatment Court will be severely affected.”
Ryan does not live in Kent County, but is a veteran who served 5 years of active duty in the Navy and 25 years in the reserves. He is passionate about the services made possible by mileage and does not want to see them disappear.
RELATED: Kent County Mileage Proposal Guide
“Because of the mileage, the number of trained and certified Veterans Services Officers has increased across the county, which has resulted in the recouping of millions of dollars in veterans benefits for Kent County veterans” , said Paul. He told us that veterans must go through trained counselors to receive certain federal and VA benefits, without the mileage those benefits could become inaccessible. “It’s allowed the county to really think outside the box in terms of other programs and services, especially around suicide prevention, veteran mental health, food insecurity, and especially female veterans.”
Veteran’s mileage isn’t the only tax proposal on the primary ballot. The elderly mileage will also get the Kent County voters test and costs about ten times as much.
“Why can’t you just take that out of the budget that exists?” said Michigan Tax Fighters member Pete Lund. “If veterans really are such a high priority, pay them out of the budget instead of putting them in the hands of the people.”
Lund thinks mileage in general is a slippery slope. He said he didn’t believe in large-scale “no” votes, but he had yet to see a mile he believed in. He believes raising taxes is the wrong way to fund services like seniors or veterans.
“The problem isn’t saying we don’t want veterans to get services. Absolutely not,” Lund said. “Our problem is that politicians don’t set priorities properly.”
Ryan disagrees with this view, saying budgets set by boards, commissions, and legislatures are indirect. He and his group believe that mileage allows voters to directly influence how their money is spent and what it is used for.
To see what’s on your ballot, you can find it on the state’s website.