KENT COUNTY, Mich. — With less than a week until the August 2nd primary election, voters are getting ready to head to the polls. More than just party candidates, Tuesday's ballot will hold local issues like tax millages specific to each voter's jurisdiction. In Kent County, one of those millage proposals is a renewal of the 2014 Veteran's service millage.
As it's written on the ballot, the millage is "EQUAL TO FIVE CENTS PER $1,000 OF THE TAXABLE VALUE ON ALL REAL AND PERSONAL PROPERTY SUBJECT TO TAXATION FOR THE PERIOD 2022 THROUGH 2029."
What that means is that a person who owns a property appraised at $200,000 will pay 10 dollars extra annually for the next 7 years. In total, the estimated cost within the first year would be $1,327,856.
"If the millage doesn’t pass, then a lot of the partnerships that have been funded by grants from kent county veterans services will go away," said Paul Ryan with Citizens supporting Kent County Veterans. "The Kent county veterans treatment court will be severely negatively impacted by that."
Ryan does not live in Kent County, but he is a veteran who served 5 years of active duty with the Navy and 25 years in the reserves. He's passionate about the services made possible by the millage and doesn't want to see them go away.
RELATED: Kent County millage proposal guide
"Because of the millage, the number of trained and accredited veterans services officers has increased in the county and that has resulted in millions of dollars recovered in veterans benefits for Kent county veterans," Paul said. He told us veterans have to go through trained counselors to receive certain federal and VA Benefits, without the millage those benefits could become inaccessible. "It's enabled the county to really think outside the box in terms of other programs and services, specifically with respect to suicide prevention, veterans' mental health, food insecurity and especially female veterans."
The Veteran's millage is not the only tax proposal on the primary ballot. The Senior Citizens millage will also get the test of Kent County voters and costs about ten times more.
"Why can't you just take that out of the budget that exists?" said Pete Lund, a member of Michigan Tax Fighters. "If veterans are truly that high of a priority – pay for it out of the budget instead of putting it at the hands of the people."
Lund believes millages in general are a slippery slope. He said he doesn't believe in sweeping 'No' votes, but he's yet to see a millage that he believes in. He feels that raising taxes isn't the right way to fund services like seniors or veterans.
"The problem isn’t saying that we don’t want veterans to have services. Absolutely not," Lund said. "Our problem is that politicians aren’t setting priorities properly."
Ryan disagrees with that point of view, saying the budgets set by councils, commissions and legislatures are indirect. He and his group feel the millage allows voters the chance to directly influence how their money is spent, and what it goes toward.
To see what's on your ballot, you can find that through the State's Website.