By Iván Flores
On Aug. 2, Michigan voters will head to the polls for local primaries. Washtenaw county residents will also vote on a proposal to renew a millage that provides about 14 percent of Washtenaw Community College’s budget. The 0.85 millage was originally passed in 2004, and has provided about $11 million to the college since then. Taxpayers would pay about $85 a year on every $100,000 of taxable property value. The millage would take effect from the 2017-2026 budget years, and raise about $12.5 million.
State Rep. David Rutledge (D-Ypsilanti) is the chairman of Friends of Washtenaw Community College. It is an external organization that advocates for the needs of WCC. According to Rutledge, the millage is one of three local taxes that help fund WCC. Two of them are permanent. The millage on the August ballot must be renewed.
The millage is not a renewal, but a restoration, Rutledge said. State law requires local governments to “roll back” millages when the growth rate of property values exceed that of inflation. Because of this, the tax has decreased from 0.85 to 0.834 mill over the past 10 years.
In a phone interview, Rutledge said, “The millage is about maintaining the (high) quality of education, and about keeping tuition low… WCC serves a critical need in Washtenaw County. It is sandwiched between the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University, but WCC is unique in that it focuses on employable skills”
Carey Jernigan, another member of FWCC, said that her organization will begin campaigning in favor of the millage renewal soon. They are fundraising to pay for marketing materials like flyers and yard signs. Students interested in helping FWCC’s campaign can contact her at email@example.com.
“We should not lose sight of (the fact)” Rutledge said,” that WCC generates $373 million in our county alone.” More importantly, he said, “It’s a place of second chances.”