Salted with Sharks

Archive for the ‘Housekeeping’ Category

Our New Tax Assessor: Barbie Eaton

In Gilmore Township, Gov't Watch, Housekeeping, Infrastructure and Planning, On and off the Apron on May 15, 2014 at 4:18 pm

In late April this year, Marvin Blackford, longtime tax assessor for Frankfort, Gilmore Township, and Crystal Lake, retired, and Gilmore and Frankfort contracted with Barbie Eaton of Brown and Associates. Ms. Eaton kindly took the time to answer a few questions about her new position.

1. What is the role of the tax assessor? My job is to determine value for property in accordance to Michigan tax laws. To do this I use cost estimates, sales, and, when appropriate, income statistics (for commercial and industrial properties, mostly). I also handle the paperwork for various exemptions, including: Principle Residence Exemption (PRE), Veteran Exemptions, and Poverty Exemptions, to name a few.

2. What is NOT the role of the tax assessor?  I cannot tell you what your actual tax bill will be, nor can I see if you have paid your taxes. I also cannot tell you what the amount of tax was that you were billed for. I can estimate tax amounts based on the taxable value of the property and the millage rate, but the [Village/Township] treasurer is the one who actually handles the tax bills/money.

3. When are the Board of Review meetings for 2014/15, and what is their purpose? The Board of Review meets in March to hear protests of the assessed value from residents. In order to protest to the Michigan Tax Tribunal you MUST first attend the Board of Review in March. The purpose of these meetings is to ensure that assessments are fair and equitable. The assessment rate in the state of Michigan is 50%, which means that your assessed value should reflect roughly 50% of the True Cash Value (a.k.a Market Value). The Board of Review also meets in July and December to correct qualified errors.  

4. Who sits on the Board of Review?  I haven’t met the Gilmore board yet, but I can give you the general guidelines of who can be on the Board of Review. It’s a three-member committee that meets three times a year. All three members must be registered to vote in the township and at least two thirds must be property owners. The Board of Review is part of the checks and balances system to property taxes.  The assessor certifies the roll, the Board of Review then reviews the roll and hears protests from property owners before they certify the roll. [Bob Delanoye and Ken Holmes were named to the Gilmore Board of Review at the Gilmore Township meeting in February. Carl Noffsinger, as township supervisor, also sits on the board.]

5. What do you like best about your job?  This job gives me flexibility to work around my family’s schedule. I also enjoy being able to help people better understand our property tax system here in Michigan.  

6. What can we as a community (Elberta/Gilmore) do to create a good working relationship with you and make your job easier?  We will be coming around this summer to do physical inspections of the township. We never have to come into your home; all our measurements are done on the outside. Please allow my field staff to do their job and take a picture and verify measurements. My field staff will have picture IDs and will knock on the door before checking measurements. If you are not home when we come to your house we will leave an orange tag on your door with our office phone number so you may contact us if you have any questions. We will not measure a home that has only children there. If you ever have questions please feel free to contact my office.

We have a website with some really helpful information about Michigan property tax laws and exemptions. You can also find some personal information there about me and my office and field staff. Contact me at 1-888-714-9288 or I will be holding office hours at the City of Frankfort on Thursday mornings from 9:30-12:30, otherwise my Ludington office is usually open Monday–Friday 9 am–4 pm.

Finally the Truth! About Garbage

In Community Alert, Environment, Housekeeping, On and off the Apron on May 15, 2014 at 1:43 pm

By Emily Votruba

Village garbage pickup, provided by Allied Waste (Republic Services) of Manistee, is every Friday morning. Put your trash out by 7 am to be safe. In the event of a Monday holiday, service will occur the next day (so, in our case, pickup will be Saturday).

You must purchase official red Allied Waste garbage bags. For many years, villagers bought these bags at the Village Office from our clerk, Sharyn Bower; most recently the price was $25 for a pack of ten. Because of the Village’s financial crisis, office hours have been drastically reduced, and this service is no longer provided.

You can buy bags at Glen’s in Frankfort or Shop-n-Save in Benzonia for $30 for 10 or $3 each. (“There’s no deal,” said the person who answered the phone at Glen’s.) City Hall in Frankfort sells them for $25/10—and yes, you can use theirs, because they also contract with Allied Waste. The cheapest option (not including gas) is to buy bags at the Village of Beulah office, at $21 for 10. The Beulah office is open Tuesday through Thursday from 10 am to 2 pm, or you can go there Monday through Wednesday evening from 5 to 7 when treasurer Dawn Olney is there.

It has become customary for Villagers to use their own standard-size trash receptacle, and simply hang an official garbage bag as a “red flag” over the side, secured to the can by its lid or some other means. This is perfectly acceptable. Be aware, though, that if the amount of trash in your container is significantly larger than what would likely fit in an official bag, the waste removal team may pass you by. Perhaps fly two red flags, if you’re not sure.

If you generate a lot of waste, and the whole buying-trash-bags scenario is harshing your mellow, you may choose to rent a container from Allied Waste for approximately $20 per month (that’s $15 plus fees; the Allied rep reached by phone today wasn’t totally sure of the cost). Give ’em a call at (231) 723-4940, or visit their website.

The Allied staffer also noted that yard waste pickup is available in the Village on the second Friday of every month from April through August, and then on the second and fourth Fridays from September through November. Special yard waste bags can be purchased at Glen’s for the same price. In the fall, leaves may be dumped at the swamp end of First Street. Or you can dump your leaves and pesticide-free clippings in Emily Votruba’s yard. If you spray, though, please stay away. Thank you. Note: Per a fairly recent Village ordinance, there is no burning of brush or other yard waste allowed in the Village limits. Some of your near neighbors like to keep their lungs pink, so please be considerate and follow the law.

Unlike Frankfort, the Village has no curbside large-item removal—except by your fellow Villagers, if you put out something cool. Instead, we have an annual cleanup day, where for $25 a pickup load, Village residents can bring their trash to the Village Office and Ken Bonney will help dump it in a rented Dumpster. The next one of those is this Saturday, May 17, from 9 am to 2 pm; details in the flier below. I, for one, am very excited about this.

In your ongoing effort to be a good citizen and member of our ecosystem, you may wish take advantage of Benzie County’s hazardous and electronic-waste collections (see flier below), orchestrated by the fabulous Marlene Wood, and by all means, save yourself some money by bringing your recyclables to the massive recycling bins in the Frankfort industrial park on Parkview Lane, off M-115. Paper products and anything stamped with a triangled number can go in there; glass must be placed the nearby separate glass containers. If you want to help out the local high school, take your cardboard to the trailer in the Frankfort–Elberta High School parking lot. They’ll appreciate it. Ψ