New way to pay Detroit property tax bills (2024)

  • New way to pay property tax bills
  • Property tax exemptions for last year
  • So many demolition questions
  • Water authority’s Freud pump station project
  • A comeback for Detroit’s tow rate commission

Welcome back to the notebook. I’mKayleigh Lickliter!No worries,Malachi Barrettwill be back next week.

For now, let’s talk about what happened at the July 2 formal session!

Dig into theagenda,readDetroit Documenter notesorwatch the recordingfor more details.

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New way to pay Detroit property tax bills (1)

New way to pay property tax bills, but it will cost you

The council approved a contract with Paymentus Corporationto expand payment options for property tax bills, including delinquent taxes.

Currently, residents aren’t able to look at payment history, use alternate payment methods such as Venmo or ApplePay, or pay multiple bills at the same time. Residents can pay tax bills with cash by visiting a DivDat kiosk, but they can’t pay with cash anywhere else. The treasurer’s office acknowledged that theselimitations can be difficult for many residents, especially for residents who are unbanked.

Under the Paymentus contract,residents will be able to pay their property tax bill with cash or alternate payment methods by visiting Walgreens, Meijer, Walmart, or other participating retailers. Deputy CFO/Treasurer Nikhil Patel told the city council during a committee meeting last week that the software will “allow a resident who is doing grocery shopping to also pay their property tax bills.”

The city plans to expand this capability to all other departments in the future, according to Patel.

Refund payments will also be processed almost instantaneouslycompared to the current processing time of 30 to 120 days which has left residents frustrated, according to the treasurer’s office.

The three-year contract won’t cost the city money, butresidents will be charged a 2.35% fee when paying property tax bills using the new system.

Similar to DivDat kiosks, residents can make a free electronic payment if they provide an email address or phone number.If residents pay via electronic transfer but don’t provide contact information, a $2.50 flat fee will be applied, according to the council’s Legislative Policy Division. The contact information requirement exists, according to the city treasurer’s office, because it allows the city to communicate proactively about upcoming bills and changes in service hours. Federal regulations prohibit charging utility customers a percentage fee for bill payment processing, so residents are charged a $2.50 flat fee for utility bill payments.

New way to pay Detroit property tax bills (2)

Apply for a property tax exemption for last year’s bill

Residents will be able to apply for a poverty exemption for last year’s property tax bill.

Anamendmentto the homeowner’s property tax exemption was approved to allow the Board of Review to retroactively apply an exemption for the prior year, as long as the applicant hasn’t been denied previously.The amendment follows a change in state statuteallowing poverty exemptions to apply to the previous year’s tax bill.

The deadline to apply for an exemption for last year’s property taxes isNov. 1.

New way to pay Detroit property tax bills (3)

Council raises new and old questions about demo contracts

Council members hadmany questions about demolition contracts, including how many Detroiters have city-funded demolition contracts.

City Council President Mary Sheffield suggested the number of properties bundled into one demolition contracthas increased, presenting oversight challenges for the council, but Demolition Department Director LaJuan Counts clarified that the contracts in question are smaller than what the city has awarded in the past. Typically, Counts said, 100-120 properties are bundled together in a single demolition contract but, as the city reaches the end of its demolition list, the number of properties in a contract bundle has reduced to around 80.

Sheffield said she also noticed thatseveral long-time city demolition contractors are reporting very few Detroiters as employees. But Counts said the numbers reported in the Legislative Policy Division’s weekly contract reviews represent the total number of employees on a company’s payroll and only a certain number of those employees are assigned to demolition work in the city.

Council Member Angela Whitfield-Calloway said she’s visited construction sites where Major Contracting Group, which is a general construction contractor, was hired by the city to perform construction services, and the only Black worker onsite was a Department of Public Worksemployee.

Multiple contracts were rejected or held backTuesday as a result of council member’s inquiries.

Great Lakes Water Authority pump station project advances

Apetitionto vacate certain areas of Freud Street and public alleys in support of a proposed Great Lakes Water Authority pump station project in the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood was approved.

The request is part of a$138 million projectto builda new pumping station expected to provide flood reliefto the community. The plan includes re-routing Freud to the north and ultimately winding the street around the new facility. The location was selected based on underground infrastructure that currently runs along Freud.

A community engagement plan was created after residents in the neighborhood raised concerns about the lack of community engagement surrounding the project. City staff told council membersthe project contractor will hire community liaisons to conduct outreach and postcards will be sent to residentswithin an 8-block radius of where the facility will be constructed.

The planning phase was broken up into three parts.The first phase is expected to begin in the next two weeks.Concerns were raised about District 5 residents being left out of the conversations, despite being on the edge of the district.

New way to pay Detroit property tax bills (4)

Delaying debate on affordable housing plan

Apetition from community membersto speak before the council aboutan affordable housing development in northwest Detroitwas removed from the agenda. The project would be located at St. Mary’s of Redford Catholic Church in District 1, but President Pro Tem James Tate said it’s in the early phases and too soon to discuss the details.

Recent media reports highlighted fundraising efforts for the project, including a grant the Volunteers of America received from the state of Michigan to repurpose the church intoaffordable housing for veterans and individuals experiencing homelessness.

Tate said his office has been in contact with the developers about the project since 2022 and he’s challenged by the situation. The developer held a community meeting last week which 20-30 residents attended, according to Tate, but the presentation was “very poor” and many weren’t pleased when they left.

Opponents raised safety concernsand argued that the neighborhood block isn’t big enough for extra parking and for “people roaming the community.” Tate said he shared his concerns about the project with the developer butalso understandsthe needs of vulnerable populationsthat the project would serve.

Reviving the tow rate commission

An appointment to the city’s charter-mandatedTow Rate Commissionwas approvedafter a decade of not meeting.The city’s charter requires the 5-person commission to meet every two years to set the tow rates for police-authorized tows. However, the council’s Legislative Policy Division looked into the commission late last year and found that it hadn’t met since 2012, according to the division’sreport.

Peggy Goodwin is the public affairs representative for theDetroit Towing Association.She’s been affiliated with the organization for 21 years, according to Detroit’s auditor general.

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