Cambridge Township to pay back around $57,000 to speedway
By Matt Schepeler
It appears that Michigan International Speedway has been over-taxed.
An appeal to the Michigan Tax Tribunal by MIS over its 2016 taxes never made it to court. “We settled,” said clerk Rick Richardson at the regular township meeting May 9.
The township and speedway agreed to lower the entity’s property tax value from $47,450,000 to $33,956,000 for that year, resulting in a $13, 492,000taxable cut for that year, “which was far, far better than we would have gotten [if it went to court],” said Richardson.
The results will be felt across the two counties.
“Township wide, we will take in about $26,000 less per year,” said Richardson. Supervisor Bill Gentner said that Cambridge Township actually had the least to lose. Other entities that will be hurt from a large taxable value reduction will be Lenawee County, Lenawee Intermediate School District, Columbia Township and Columbia schools.
According to Richardson, MIS’ 2017 taxable value will go up by the rate of inflation, “which is typical,” while the 2018 rate will be frozen.
Cambridge Township will have to pay back roughly $57,000 from the past two years to the speedway. “We don’t have to pay any interest on the refund, and they gave us 90 days to pay it,” said the clerk.
The case has been ongoing for several months and has cost the township more than a loss of tax revenue. As of December 2017, the township had incurred around $64,000 in legal expenses from the case but had billed out $48,000 of that to the other taxing jurisdictions. Richardson added that the state of Michigan will also be sharing in the cost of the appeal.
In the end, the township decided it was in its best interest to settle. According to the minutes of a special meeting held April 8, the decision to settle was unanimous, with trustee Otis Garrison being absent.
“You win some, you lose some, and we lost this one,” said Richardson.
The announcement that the speedway’s taxes were being lowered came after the township voted to purchase two new four-wheel drive vehicles to use – in part – for patrolling and providing rescue services at the speedway. Cambridge provides the bulk of police and fire and rescue services inside the speedway during major events. Under the purchase agreement for the new four-wheelers, which will cost $17,000 each, the township will be repaid for the vehicles over the next two and a half years.
After being told of the tax adjustment, Gary Harper, township resident and frequent critic of the township’s arrangements with MIS, told the board that “You guys do a lot for [MIS].
“A lot,” he stressed.
“Yes, but we don’t give any of it away,” said Richardson. “You are right. We do a lot for them, but we charge for every penny of it.
“Just remember that.”
While the hit from MIS will be felt, Richardson said that between new construction and new personal property taxes from one company, “In 2018, we are actually going to be $4 million ahead.”
“That is the good news,” he said.
In other business, the township approved a conditional use permit for Corey Gray to operate a winery on his property on Knapp Highway.
The board approved the hiring of Jason Hess as the dangerous buildings hearing officer.
A firework permit for the Loch Erin Property Owners Association was approved.