DeWitt Taxpayers Could Get Money Back

By: Tony Tagliavia
By: Tony Tagliavia

The City of DeWitt is roughly half a million dollars in the black.

Residents are divided on just what the city should do with the extra cash -- but people in DeWitt, including the mayor, say it's a nice problem to have.

"I thought it was wonderful that a town this size could have surplus money," Charles Ferguson said.

Ferguson, a lifelong DeWitt resident, says he's never heard of anything quite like this.

The city of DeWitt is considering giving residents their tax money back -- because of a $400,000 to $450,000 surplus in the city's $3.5 million budget. Mayor Paul Opsommer says the city has three options.

First: "(A) one or two mill reduction in the millage rate," Opsommer said.

"That's where the money came from, and if I got it back I'd probably just spend it," resident Cheryl Evans said.

"A second option would be to do a rebate check in January," the mayor said.

"Sure I could spend it real easy, when I got two girls. They could use new clothes and stuff," resident Brad Ward said.

"(The) third option is to do nothing and wait another year," Opsommer said.

"Put it in the bank. Maybe we'll need it down the road sometime," Ferguson said.

You might think the surplus comes from all the new homes being built in DeWitt. But the mayor says a good part of the savings comes from sharing services like the fire department.

"We've had really ... no large developments in the city in the last 10 years," Opsommer said.

The mayor says most of the newer, larger developments are in DeWitt Township -- not in the city limits. He says the city saved nearly a hundred thousand dollars after merging parks departments with DeWitt Township and the school district.

Combining the city fire department with two nearby townships will save money in the long term, he says.

They're the types of money-saving mergers Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero has said he'd like to see a bit further south.

Back in DeWitt, the mayor points to another cost savings.

"We used to have 21 employees, and now we have 17. For a city this size that's a substantial reduction in employees," Opsommer said.

That savings has yielded what the mayor calls a win-win for the city.

"Both of the ideas result in tax savings for the citizens of the city of DeWitt," he said.

The DeWitt city budget is due June 1st. The council will be deciding what to do with the extra money over the next couple of months.

-- in DeWitt, Tony Tagliavia, News 10.


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