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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

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Voters approve cuts to personal property tax in state primary elections

By Jack Turman, Daily Staff Reporter
Published August 5, 2014

Tuesday’s statewide primary election, featuring mostly uncontested races, both set the stage for the Nov. 4 general election and also brought forward changes to state tax code for voter approval.

Proposal 1, the only ballot proposal in Tuesday’s primary, was approved by voters, carrying about 64 percent of the vote.

The proposal approves a cut in the personal property tax businesses are expected to pay on commercial equipment — anything from machinery to furniture to electronics, used by the business. The PPT is levied in addition to a one-time statewide six percent sales tax on such items.

The revenue local governments previously gained from the PPT will be replaced through the creation of a Local Community Stabilization Authority, which would administer and distribute the funds from a Local Community Stabilization Share Tax to local governments and municipal services, such as public safety and school districts.

Businesses with personal property valued at or less than $80,000 will be exempt from the tax immediately, but they would have to file an exemption to show they qualify.

Harry Hawkins, CEO of West Hawk Industries in Ann Arbor, voted in favor for the tax cut. He said he thinks the change will be a positive one for businesses.

“This (tax) has always been a discouraging thing as far as buying more equipment or hiring more people,” Hawkins said. “I think the new system when they eliminate that should be a lot better.”

However, the proposal hasn’t found favor with everyone. Warren Mayor James Fouts recently voiced his discontent with Proposal 1 in a Detroit Free Press opinion piece, writing that Proposal 1 infringes on the local government’s jurisdiction.

“It should be left up to the local jurisdiction to determine whether it can afford to exempt personal property for a manufacturer,” Fouts wrote. “A jurisdiction already has the right to exempt personal property to industries on a per parcel basis. Proposal 1 takes that local control away.”

As well, the proposal will have immediate and long-term financial consequences. According to the Senate Fiscal Agency, the estimated net loss to the State General Fund for the fiscal year of 2014-2015 will be $39.2 million. For the fiscal year of 2027-2028, the estimated net loss would reach $502.2 million.

Along with Proposal 1, voters statewide also selected candidates for state Senate and House of Representatives, as well as U.S Senate and House of Representatives. Ann Arbor is in the US 12th Congressional District, the state senate’s 18th district, and the 53rd district in the state’s House of Representatives.

Democratic candidate Debbie Dingell defeated fellow Democratic candidate Ray Mullins with approximately 79 percent of the vote. Dingell will face Republican Terry Bowman, who ran uncontested in the primary, in the general election. In the US Senate, where incumbent Democrat Carl Levin is stepping down, Democratic candidate Gary Peters and Republican candidate Terri Lynn Land, both of whom ran uncontested in their respective primaries, will face off in November.

In the state Senate, Democratic candidate Rebekah Warren and Republican candidate Terry Linden both ran uncontested and will face each other in the general election. In the state House, Democratic candidate Jeff Irwin and Republican candidate John Spisak were also both uncontested in the primaries, and will face each other in the general election.


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