By Rosemary K. Otzman
At its regular meeting on Aug. 19, the Van Buren Township Board of Trustees held a public hearing and then unanimously approved a request for a personal property tax exemption for NEAPCO Drivelines.
NEAPCO is located at 6735 Haggerty Road and makes OEM prop shafts and drive shafts.
Assessor Linda Stevenson said they are adding $25 million in personal property.
They qualify for an 11 year exemption and will pay half of the tax rate, she said.
Trustee Jeff Jahr pointed out since the study for the exemption was done on the company, a proposal was passed by voters and NEAPCO will get 50% abatement of a tax that is being phased out in the next nine years.
Stevenson said that is correct and the tax probably will be phased out before the abatement ends.
NEAPCO has been in VBT since 2007 when it opened a facility with more than 340,000 square feet of manufacturing space, Stevenson said.
At its work/study session the day before, on Aug. 18, the VBT Board discussed the Constellium Automotive USA requests for property tax and personal property tax exemptions, which will come before the board at its Sept. 2 meeting.
Constellium, 6331 Schooner Drive, is seeking a 50%, 12-year property tax abatement for constructing 195,000 more square feet to its building at a cost of $13,265,000. It is also seeking a six-year, zero personal property tax abatement.
Constellium makes aluminum lightweight auto parts and has a contract with Ford Motor Co. to make crash management systems for its F-150 aluminum pickups. The headcount of employees increases every month, said the vice president and general manager of North America for Constellium, who added they expect to add 200 more employees at the plant. He told the board the engineering is fairly sophisticated and there are more robots moving in the shop than people.
In other business at the 40-minute meeting on Aug. 19, the board:
• Heard Brent Mikulski, president of the Van Buren Public Schools Board of Education, give an update on test scores (“wonderful things to report… there is some room for improvement”), the balanced budget, setting up three-year maintenance plans, transportation issues (costs going up), energy conservation with 13% reduction in energy costs, etc. Mikulski invited the board to upcoming school open houses, adding, “These are wonderful times in the district”;
• Heard Fire Chief Dan Besson announce that three fire fighters had made it through the one-year probationary period and now are full paid-per-call fire fighters: Bronson Campbell, Greg Kowalski, and Stephen Jones. Also, Doug Doty, who was promoted to lieutenant six months ago, completed his six-month probation period. “I was going to have several fire fighters with me tonight, but they are busy with the severe weather,” Chief Besson said, adding the fire fighters now will get the badges and helmet shields in a private ceremony instead of in front of the board; and
• Heard Van Buren Public Schools Board of Education member Scott Russell voice his concerns about the low-level radioactive fracking waste coming to the VBT hazardous landfill from Pennsylvania that he read about in that morning’s Detroit Free Press. He brought copies of the story for each member of the township board.
VBT Aug. 18 work/study session
At the VBT Board’s one-hour-and-17-minute meeting on Aug. 18, the board:
• Discussed the job description of a person to be GIS (Geographic Information System) Technician, as presented by DPW Director James Taylor, who expects the wages (from $30,534 to $42,344 including bonuses but not including benefits) to be paid with the SAW grant coming from the state in a year or two and retroactive. There was much discussion on how the grant is coming through DPW, but the IT person should be under the direction of IT Director Steve Rankin. This item is expected to be on the Sept. 2 board meeting agenda;
• Discussed the “Livonia Language” that the board approved March 15, 2011 related to the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. The township attorney recommends the language be deleted from the zoning ordinance since it was struck down by the Michigan Supreme Court. The language reads, “Uses for enterprises that are contrary to Federal, State or Local Laws or Ordinances are prohibited.” The board also briefly discussed medical marijuana dispensaries and Patrick Sloan of McKenna Associates said dispensaries are not provided for in state law, but if the state law changes, “We’d have to change.” Sloan said the township hasn’t received any applications for dispensaries, so there is no pressure on the subject. Removal of the Livonia Language is expected to be on the Sept. 2 agenda;
• Heard John Delaney point out Tyler Road is failing between Belleville Road and Hannan Road because the center seam is opening up to three inches because it didn’t get sealed when it was built. Trustee Phil Hart said the expansion joints are laying all over from the flooding, so much that the road floated. Supervisor Linda Combs said she will follow up on the issue.
By Rosemary K. Otzman