Property tax reduction expected for residents in the Farmington Public Schools district

By: Mark Vest | Farmington Press | Published November 8, 2021

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FARMINGTON — When it comes to property taxes, most residents are probably more accustomed to increases than decreases, which is why some recent news may have come as a pleasant surprise for some.

Farmington Public Schools issued a press release stating that homeowners within the district’s boundaries will see a property tax reduction that will take place in the December 2021 tax levy.

According to the release, when the state School Aid Budget was approved by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Legislature in July, the target foundation for all school districts was set at $8,700.

Farmington Public Schools is allowed to levy what is known as a hold-harmless per-pupil amount of $2,067 more, but in order to not exceed FPS’s total foundation allowance of $10,576 for the 2021-2022 school term, the state is requiring the district to reduce its hold-harmless pupil rate to $1,876, which will reduce the overall millage rate.

For a home with a taxable value of $100,000, it amounts to a savings of approximately $63.

FPS Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Jennifer Kaminski provided a further explanation as to why residents will see a property tax reduction.

“Because the state is fully funding that $8,700 for us, and they capped our foundation allowance (at) $10,576 for this year, we had to reduce that hold harmless pupil amount. And so, it’s reduced about $191, down to $1,876, and that’s what’s generating that reduction for residential taxpayers,” Kaminski said.

Kaminski shared a way to “simplify it.”

“The state is fully funding that target foundation allowance for all districts. And so, it’s taking some of the burden off of our local residential taxpayers through that reduction in the hold harmless millage rate,” she said.

Kaminski went on to further explain what it means to “hold harmless.”

“Back in 1994, when Proposal A went into effect, certain districts were already receiving funding and spending at levels above that base foundation allowance that the state set. And so, in order not to, or to ‘hold harmless,’ those districts from having to make significant reductions based on what the state wanted to provide in revenue, they allowed districts to ask their local taxpayers to continue to support the schools through this hold-harmless millage,” she said. “They didn’t want us to have to reduce our operating costs because the state was (going to) provide less funding to us. So they said, ‘That’s fine. The state will give you X amount, and then if you (want to) go to your residential property taxpayers and ask if they’ll support additional funding for the schools, we’ll allow you to collect that revenue.’”

Kaminski said that applies to 35 school districts, including FPS, because “the communities for those school districts were already supporting at a higher level” than what the state was going to provide back in 1994.

She added that the total foundation allowance is determined each year by the state.

“The governor prepares her budget, usually around February, and then the Legislature, the House and the Senate work on their versions,” Kaminski said. “And then they all have to come together and come to some sort of agreement.”

Kaminski said FPS’s previous foundation allowance was $10,405 for the last school term.

At the time she spoke, she said there were not yet “accurate figures” as to the number of students in the district this term, but that number was 9,401 last term.

Kaminski shared more thoughts about the millage reduction.

“We’ve been collecting $2,067 per pupil since 1994. Now that was reduced to $1,876, and assuming no other changes are made, that will be our amount going forward,” she said.

“We did receive a higher foundation increase than we were anticipating,” Kaminski said. “Maintaining or having an increasing foundation allowance each year is very important.”

Kaminski said that, hopefully, having a reduction in taxes will “make everyone happy.”

FPS Finance Director Kimberly Pincheck said it is a “good message to spread out to our community.”

“I think the state’s trying to make things better for education and give us some additional resources,” Pincheck said. “I think that’s wonderful.”