Inside and outside of Oakland

Tentative recounts could slow December tax bills

  The Oakland County Elections Division has tentatively set aside Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 to recount ballot questions in Royal Oak and Oxford townships.

  Proposed property tax increases on the Nov. 2 ballot were defeated by 2 votes in each township.
  Oakland County, which also does the tax assessing for both communities, has to schedule the recounts no later than those dates in order for property tax bills to go out on time Dec. 1.
  But the elections division can schedule the recounts no earlier because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
  “We really need to do it that day because the tax bills go out Dec. 1,” Oakland County Director of Elections Joe Rozell said. “If the outcome changes, they need to get it on the tax bills.”
  In Royal Oak Township, voters rejected a 4.5-mill property tax increase 376 to 374.
In Oxford Township, voters rejected a 0.75-mill increase for police protection 2,885 to 2,883.
  A mill is $1 for each $1,000 of taxable property value.
  In Royal Oak Township, the owner of a home with a taxable value of $20,000 would pay an additional $90 a year in property taxes if the proposal had passed, or if the outcome is reversed after a recount.
  In Oxford Township, the owner of a home with a $100,000 taxable value would pay $75 additional each year, if the proposed increase had passed or the outcome reversed on a recount.
  The recounts, Rozell said, haven’t been formally requested yet.
  “They can’t legally request them until the 18th,” he said. “But we’ve gotten enough calls from both townships and residents to know that it’s going to happen.”
  The tight timing for the recounts is largely do to state elections reporting laws colliding with the annual holiday.
  County elections workers have to finish canvassing the Nov. 2 elections results on Nov. 17 and then send them to Lansing to be certified by the State Board of Canvassers Nov. 22.
  Rozell said the county has to wait 48 hours after state certification to begin recounts, but the four-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend begins Nov. 25, meaning Monday, Nov. 29, is the first available day to have a recount.
  “The 29th is really the first day we can really do it,” Rozell said.
  The outcome of the recounts could affect tax bills for 861 parcels of real property and 157 tax bills for personal property in Royal Oak Township. In Oxford Township, there are 14,300 parcels of real property and 708 tax bills for personal property.
  Real property refers to taxable real estate that isn’t moveable while personal property refers to taxable items like equipment that are moveable.
  “It’s not a big deal as far as volume,” said Dave Hieber, manager of Oakland County Equalization, the county’s tax assessing arm. “Hopefully, they’ll get that all squared away.”
  Oxford Township Treasurer Joe Ferrari said the pending recounts put the tax bills on hold until they’re resolved.
  “If the two no votes turn to yes, it changes everything,” Ferrari said. “People may not get taxes until the second week in December, at the latest. If the recounts are done earlier, we’ll get them out earlier.”
  Contact Charles Crumm at 248-745-4649, or follow him on Twitter @crummc.

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