Sturgis City Commission on June 28 approved increasing the operating property tax rate.
The decision came during a public hearing at the board’s regular meeting.
The rate was increased to just over 11.68 mills, up from the 2022 rate of 10.46. It’s the maximum rate allowable without putting it to a public vote.
The increase is expected to generate about $345,000 in additional revenue, compared to the 2022 rate.
The board narrowly approved the measure, 5-4. Among those opposed: Richard Bir and Frank Perez. Bir suggested keeping it at current rate. Perez agreed.
“I know there’s a lot of uncertainty going on with the hospital, but if something were to happen with the hospital in the next 30 to 60 days, at least gives us a full 10 to 12 months to figure out exactly how we’re gonna do this,” Perez said. “I just don’t think increasing the millage now, only to turn around and increase it again next year, is justifiable.”
City clerk Ken Rhodes reminded Perez that the millage rate cannot be raised again without a vote.
Mayor Jeff Mullins responded to Perez, regarding the goal of planning.
“We can either go further into debt, without raising it, or help ourselves out knowing what’s ahead of us,” Mullins said. “So we can either plan to do it now, or plan to do it later. If we don’t do it now and we do it in a year, we’re going to lose out on $313,000 that’s going to be added to our general fund.”
Vice mayor Aaron Miller echoed Mullins’ assessment, saying it’s best to avoid “a slide into the budget pit.”
Tax bills will be sent to residents in mid-July, Rhodes said.
Also as part of the public hearing segment, commissioners OK’d the 3.0 rate for the streets/sidewalks improvement millage.