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Gratiot not giving up on fight against state tax commission

The state’s sudden decision to lower the wind turbine tax rates from 100 percent to 80 percent is still a bone of contention with the Gratiot County Board of Commissioners.

The county will lose about $200,000 in tax revenue.

County Administrator Nicole Frost explained that the Michigan Township Association (MTA) does not agree with the strategy to fight the decision and is hiring its own attorney.

Frost said that the county group, headed by Huron County, is asking the five counties involved to share the costs of an attorney for up to $3,000 each.

About $5,000 has been spent so far in the fight against the state tax commission and Frost asked for the board’s opinion on contributing to the effort.

The Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) is also working with the five counties, Frost said.

“Are the townships on board with this?” Commissioner Jan Bunting asked.

Frost explained again that the MTA has backed off the strategy pursued by the counties and detailed some of the issues, concerning multipliers for the taxes.

“But the question I asked, are the townships on board with this?” Bunting asked. “There are other people who have a stake in this.”

Frost again repeated that the MTA has hired its own attorney.

“I don’t think you’re answering my question,” Bunting said. “There are lots of townships here.”

Another board member then said, “It’s the MTA” to Bunting.

Frost said that if the the county is successful, the townships would also benefit..

“I’m just saying that the townships said, “don’t spend the money until you get it,” Bunting said, referring to comments made last fall during the budgeting process.

Moving on, Commissioner Warren Everett pointed out that the energy companies are not behind the tax cuts.

With regard to the Freedom of Information request sent to the state’s tax commission, Frost said that the state has asked for an extended period of time to answer.

It has now been nearly a month since the request was made.

The tax commission responded to the first request for a show of documents outlining the reason for the tax cuts by saying no such documents exist.

Chairman Jeff Anderson told the board that the county does have the $3,000.

“Is it worth asking why?”he asked.

Although no formal voted was taken, the consensus among the members was that the money should be spent.

On another matter, the board agreed to hire a new cleaning service.

Frost said that the bids were very far ranging. One company submitted the low bid of $10,000 for the remainder of the fiscal year, while others were as high as more than $40,000.

Calling the low bidder, Frost said she asked if something had been missed.

But the company, Copeland Cleaning, said simply that they want to get their foot in the door and so submitted the low bid, she said.

The cleaning service would work five days a week.

Maintenance Director Larry Wymer said they had scratched their heads over the price, but decided, “We haven’t got anything to lose.”

The county may cancel the contract within 30days.

The board unanimously agreed to hire the company for $10,000 for the remainder of the fiscal year.