• Gary Woronchak

Summer property tax bills arrive; here's an explanation of what's included

Summer property tax bills are issued July 1 by law, so they have started to arrive in Dearborn mailboxes. Given the simmering anger for thousands of residents affected by basement flooding, this is not the best time for tax bills to come in the mail. Nonetheless, they are here, with payment due in mid-September. The increase in tax bills from 2020 to 2021 is, for most properties, limited to the rate of inflation, which was 1.4 percent for 2020. Given that the tax rate (millage) is basically the same as last year, your bottom line is going to be 1.4 percent higher than in 2020. If your summer tax bill was $4,000 last year, for example, it will be $4,056 this year. If you purchased your property in the past year, taxes on that home will go up much more – much – compared to 2020, but then increases will be limited to inflation annually going forward.

Your tax bill is calculated by multiplying your home’s taxable value by the millage rate. Your taxable value is the important number for figuring taxes. Your bill also shows “SEV,” also known as assessed value, or state equalized value, but that’s not important in your tax calculation (though it will be for the next person to own your home). Let’s leave more of the complicated discussion about how taxes are figured to another page, which, if you really want your brain to melt, you can find by clicking here. For now, let’s take a look at the variety of tax levies that are itemized on your tax bill.


YOUR 2021 SUMMER TAX BILL, ITEM BY ITEM DBN SCHL SUPPL: These are "Hold harmless" mills approved by voters in the Dearborn Public Schools district. Proposal A of 1994 changed how schools are funded, creating a statewide property tax instead of having each district levy its own millage, but districts that would have lost ground in that formula are allowed to ask their voters for supplemental millage to hold them harmless from losing money under Proposal A. Dearborn voters approved this and renewed it a few times, most recently in 2014 for 10 years. (6.17 mills) DBN SCHL DEBT 02: These mills are levied to repay bond money the school district borrowed for construction and renovation. Voters approved this $150 million "bond issue" proposal in 2002. (2.28 mills) DBN SCHL DEBT 13: These mills are levied to repay bonds, money the school district borrowed for construction and renovation. Voters approved this $76 million "bond issue" proposal in 2013. (1.22 mills) HFCC: Henry Ford College millage, approved by voters. It will expire (and be up for renewal) in 2023. (4.0 mills) SET: State Education Tax. Proposal A of 1994 created this tax, which pays into the state School Aid Fund, which is distributed back to local districts on a per-pupil basis. (6.0 mills) RESA OPER: Operating millage levied by the Wayne Regional Educational Service Agency, which provides services to local school districts. (0.0962 mills, was 0.0965 last year) RESA SPEC EDUC: Special education programs in local districts are funded through this RESA millage. (3.3596 mills, was 3.3678 last year) WAYNE CO OPER: Wayne County government operating millage, an amount allowed under the Wayne County Home Rule Charter. (5.6347 mills, was 5.6483 mills last year) CITY OPER: City of Dearborn millage for general operations as allowed in the city charter. (15.0 mills)

CITY VOTED OPER: Extra operating millage for the city beyond the 15 mills allowed by the city charter. It was approved by voters when home values crashed more than a decade ago, to make up for some of the revenue lost by lower property values. Residents approved this extra tax money in 2011 for five years, and renewed it for another five years in 2016. It cannot be levied after the summer 2021 tax bills without voter approval of an extension, which the city is expected to ask on voters to approve on this year’s November ballot. (3.5 mills) CITY RUBBISH: State law allows cities to collect mills for trash removal beyond the charter and voter-authorized tax rates. (1.91 mills) CITY LIBRARY: Dearborn voters approved a separate 1-mill levy for city libraries in 2011 for 10 years. It cannot be levied after the summer 2021 tax bills without voter approval of an extension, which voters are being asked to approve in the August 3 primary election. Also, state law allows the city to collect up to 1 additional mill for libraries, beyond what voters have approved. (1.69 mills) RESA ENHANCED: Voters in November 2016 approved 2 mills for six years to be collected by the Regional Educational Service Agency, and distributed back to local school districts. This was a way around Proposal A's restriction on individual districts collecting local millage for operations. In November 2020, voters approved a six-year extension that will begin in 2022. (2.0 mills) ADMINISTRATION FEE: The administration fee is listed near the bottom of the bill, below "total tax due." Your tax is figured by multiplying the mills by taxable value. The city then is allowed under law to add a “service fee” of up to 1 percent to offset costs associated with collecting the taxes and distributing them to other taxing units. (1 percent of total.)

Total mills levied by all taxing entities in your summer 2021 tax bill: 52.8567 mills. (Last year it was 52.8826 mills.)

To figure the taxes due: multiply the taxable value by 0.0528826 and then add 1 percent of that total (administration fee) to figure your total tax bill.

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