As is shown in Table 1, revenue generated from property taxes has accounted for
over ninety percent of the Harrison Township Fire Department revenue since 1989.
A review of Harrison Township Assessing Department records shows the State
Equalized Value (SEV) of property in Harrison Township increased by 40.1% ($
437,494,120.00 to $ 686,097,747) between 1991 and 1998. In contrast, the average
increase across the State of Michigan was 57.4% for the same period (Harvey, 1999).
Harvey (1999) states “Local units of government with significant real estate exchange
(property sales) and/or new construction will maintain higher taxable values compared to
those with low real estate exchanges and little new construction” (p.2).
A downward trend in percentage of Harrison Township Fire Department revenue
generated by property taxes can be seen beginning in 1993. In a discussion with JoAnn
Uthes, Harrison Township Assessor, Mrs. Uthes stated “the downward trend in property
tax revenues in our Township can be attributed to both the provisions of the Headlee
Amendment and the limited new construction the Township has experienced” (personal
communication, August 20, 1999).
Research Question 3. Local governments have used a wide array of taxes and
fees for service to fund emergency services operations. A key difference between user
fees and taxes is that user fees are individual, rather than general, and voluntary. An
advantage of user fees is that those who use the service pay for the service, and as a result,
overall emergency services costs are reduced to the general public. Although the fire
department is a public benefit maintained for the good of all, the use of its services
generally constitutes a benefit only to an identifiable person. As the responsible party, the
person who receives the service is charged for the services rendered (Berman, 1997).