2018-08-16 Forum

August Notes

Notes

Chelsea Community Forum

August 13, 2018

Pam Byrnes and Jeff Reynhout served as co-moderators for this forum Three topics were selected for discussion:

  • Property tax (suggested at the July meeting)
  • School Choice
  • Rural Broadband

Property Taxes

Rod Anderson introduced the property tax topic. It was immediate clear that it would be difficult to deal with such a broad and important topic in a single discussion, but several aspects were addressed.

From a purely customer-service point of view, the presentation of the annual tax bills leave a lot to be desired. Only terse, acronym-laden descriptions of the individual millages are provided on the tax bill. No explanation of what the taxes are to be used for is provided. Considering that that combined tax bills are a major financial burden for many, the weak presentation is even more surprising.

There was some discussion about alternatives to property tax, such as value added taxes used in many European countries, or direct levys such as road taxes.

School Choice

Rick Catherman lead the discussion. Chelsea School District has opened the district to students outside the district. Admission will be allowed on a limited basis, with one or so students per grade level. Chelsea District itself is losing students to other districts, perhaps as many as 75 or so. There was speculation as to this group, such as:

  • What are the demographics of the group?
  • How are they distributed in the district?
  • Why are they leaving the district

Additional information related to the school choice process:

  • “More choice does not always mean more opportunity.”- Rick CathermaOverall, the number of students in the Dexter School District is rising, while Chelsea is relatively flat.
  • Data indicating the impact of charter schools and home-schooling on the school choice program is yet to be determined.

Broadband

Patrick Zieske broad up the issue. Recently, Lyndon township approved a millage to provide broadband WiFi coverage for the township. Even more recently, Sharon township voted one down. What is the right choice for rural communities?

David Brooks of Sylvan township offered his perspective as a member of the Michigan Broadband Cooperative. He mentioned a very successful private organization in the UK, B4RN, "the world's fastest rural broadband." This system, which relies on cooperation among local property owners and other stakeholders to install services based on buried fiber optics. David noted extension of the B4RN paradigm to Michigan may be difficult because of the intractability of local road commissions, township boards, and other local governance.

Patrick pointed out that Lyndon’s broadband coverage could be extended to Sylvan and other local townships, presumably on a cost sharing basis, per Lydon Supervisor Mark Keezer.

Special Note:

NEW MEETING TIME AND LOCATION

Chelsea Senior Center, Washington Street in Chelsea.

3rd Saturday at 9AM