OUR SURVEY RESULTS ARE IN!
In partnership with Michigan State University's School of Public Policy, Bridgeport Charter Township recently conducted a community-wide survey about funding the proposed new township hall/fire station/police station, as well as a proposed indoor sports facility. The results of the survey are now available to view here. A total of 475 completed responses were returned, and all survey responses were kept anonymous.
Proposed Township Hall
Proposed Township Floor Plan
Online Tax Calculator:
Taxpayers would pay 2.15 mils the first year with the millage decreasing each year until the bond is retired at 1.73 mils in the final year of 2042. The average millage over the 20 years is 1.99 mils. Debt calculation tables are available for viewing upon request. Bridgeport Charter Township taxpayers can use this online tax calculator to estimate the impact of November's ballot proposal on your annual tax bill.
For a detailed explanation of what your taxes fund, click here. Additionally, below is an infographic that provides a broader overview of what your annual taxes currently fund as well as how that funding breakdown would change if the proposed Township Municipal Complex millage was added to the annual tax bill:
The increase in taxes could potentially be offset by the Michigan Homestead Property Tax Credit – Households that pay homestead property taxes greater than 3.2% of their annual income may be eligible for Michigan’s Homestead Property Tax Credit. Eligible households may deduct up to 60% (up to 100% for senior citizens, please see the senior credit table below) of the millage increase cost up to a $1,500 Homestead Tax Credit limit. The eligibility for the credit begins to decrease after household income exceeds $51,001 and ends completely after the household income exceeds $60,001.
Virtual Walk-Throughs of Existing Facilities:
For a virtual walk-through of the existing fire station facilities please click here.
For a virtual walk-through of the existing police station facilities please click here.
For a virtual walk-through of the existing administrative offices please click here.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q1. Why don’t we stay in and renovate the former Pentecostal Church that serves as the temporary home of the Bridgeport Governmental Center? Isn’t it cheaper?
A1. Based on the original project budgets from 2019 the cost to stay in and renovate the former church site was $12,242,418, and the cost to build at the site of the former Huntington Bank building/Carpenter Plaza was $11,040,182. This means it was $1,202,236 less expensive to build new than to renovate. As of this year, based on cost-cutting revisions to our site plans that eliminated redundant or unnecessary spaces in the proposed Township Hall the new construction cost estimate is $7,272,292 or almost $5 million less than it costs to renovate the existing church. There are various reasons that it costs more to renovate than to build new, but some of those reasons include bringing the church up to ADA compliance, having to completely re-program the interior spaces, and having to build an addition onto the church to accommodate the Township’s staff and activities. For example, the Police Department has no meeting space, place to store their vehicles out of the elements, or wash bay for their vehicles. Additionally, having our Police and Fire departments operating out of the former church on the south end of the Township pulls them away from the Township’s population center which increases the time it takes to respond to emergencies, and can potentially drive up the Township’s insurance costs which are paid through taxes. Finally, there are also moisture problems with the temporary location and a humidifier must constantly run during the summer months to prevent the destruction of Township documents from the moisture.
Q2. What’s wrong with our current Fire Station? Why do we need a new one?
A2. The Fire Station was built in the flood plain in 1972, and was inundated with water during the flood of 1986. This puts the Township’s public safety officials at risk of not being able to respond to flood emergencies because they themselves may be in a flood emergency. Further, the station has never been renovated and its facilities are almost 50 years old. For instance, the bathrooms are not ADA compliant and do not provide shower facilities for firefighters to use for decontamination following fire calls. Over the past 50 years, fire equipment including fire trucks have gotten larger and take up more space. The current station and its berths were not built to accommodate the size and amount of modern fire equipment housed by the Fire Department. We would also like to have all three Township divisions (Administrative, Police, and Fire) housed within the same complex to streamline our operations.
Q3. Why doesn’t the temporary church location for Bridgeport’s Governmental Center work as a permanent home for Bridgeport’s Police Department?
A3. The current church location for the Police Department is severely lacking in space. Our previous location was fully used at approximately 5,030 square feet. In the current church location, we are cramped into approximately 1,900 square feet. The facility needs assessment completed in 2004 indicated we had a need for a total probable gross building area of 11,500 square feet.
Besides numerous safety and security concerns with the construction of the church building we are currently housed in, we also lack separate male/female bathrooms, no shower facility (in case an Officer needs to clean up after an exposure incident), no interview observation room, no separate conference/training room, no secure temporary holding room during interview of multiple subjects, no garage space to be used to either process evidence from vehicles, secure vehicles, perform routine minor maintenance, or clean Patrol vehicles. We also lack a space for confidential counseling or interviewing citizens. Our clerk is located in the hallway with file cabinets making it very difficult to speak with citizens at the window and/or on the phone. There are currently four small rooms besides the hallway in the Police Department location of the church with thinly built walls with no sound proofing making interviewing and investigation difficult. There is no separate secure parking area or covered parking area for Patrol vehicles or employee vehicles creating a safety and security concern for both staff, vehicles and equipment. All usable area at this time is very limited making it difficult to complete professional and thorough investigations. Currently, the Officers, Clerk, public and prisoners occupy the same space used for briefing, debriefing, prisoner processing and general personnel coming and going creating a mixture that is both inappropriate and dangerous.
Q4. What facilities does the proposed new Township Municipal Complex include?
A4. The proposed Township Municipal Complex includes administrative offices, the police department, and the fire department. It DOES NOT include any recreational facilities. Based on the MSU Survey results there was not enough community support to consider a new-construction indoor recreational facility at this time; however, the old fire station could be re-purposed for small-scale indoor recreational programming and community classes.
Q5. What will happen to the old Fire Station if the Fire Department moves into the new Township Municipal Complex?
A5. As discussed in FAQ4, since the Township is no longer considering a new-construction indoor recreational facility, the old Fire Station could potentially be re-purposed for small-scale indoor recreational programming and community classes. That being said, the old Fire Station is not ADA compliant. This limits the space that could be re-purposed for public use to the first floor unless funding was found to retrofit the building with an elevator to enable public use of the second floor as well.
Q6. Why couldn't we fix the problems at the (now demolished) former Governmental Center?
A6. The former Bridgeport Charter Township Governmental Center was built in 1980 on the site of a decommissioned dump. In 2019 it was demolished after methane gas was found in the air and ground water. The methane made the employees sick and led to the building’s permanent evacuation in 2018. The decision to demolish the building was taken after feasibility studies revealed that even if the methane gas could be contained, very little could be done to control the differential settling that was causing structural damage due to the building’s location on top of the dump which was essentially uncompacted fill.
Q7. Why don't we re-use one of the vacant school district buildings instead?
A7. Most importantly, we don’t own those buildings – they are owned by the school district which is a completely separate entity from the Township, and second, those buildings are infested with asbestos and in overall poor condition. In order to re-purpose those buildings we would have to purchase the land from the school district (assuming they'd be willing to sell it), and then we'd have to undertake prohibitively expensive asbestos remediation, along with complete renovations of the buildings, assuming they could even be programmed to meet the Township's needs.
Q8. How we will ensure that what happened at the site of the previous township hall doesn’t re-occur at the new location. In other words, what is the Township doing in terms of due diligence to ensure that we are responsible stewards of the tax dollars that would be used to construct the new building?
A8. This is a fair question given the former Governmental Center’s history. For starters, we are not building on top of a former landfill, nor are we building in a flood plain (unlike the former building). We are aware that there was a dry cleaner’s on the former Carpenter Plaza site, and that sometimes dry cleaners can cause environmental contamination. As part of our due diligence, and indeed it is a requirement should we choose to pursue a low-interest USDA loan, we will be conducting a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment, and this will determine whether additional assessments are necessary.
Q9. How did we determine the average annual cost to the taxpayer of $86 per year?
A9. This amount is based on the average value of a home in Bridgeport which is $80,000 (with a taxable value of $40,000). This is the AVERAGE home price in Bridgeport, and is not a “cheap” home price. Half the homes cost more, and half of the homes cost less. The $86 annually is based on 2.15 mills which is the millage for the first year of the bond. In reality, the millage rate will decrease each year and by the time the bond is retired the millage will only be 1.73 or $69 annually.
Q10. Can the Township use any American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding?
A10. The proposed Township Municipal Complex costs $7.2 million to build, and the Township is only receiving about $1 million in ARPA funding. If the bond passes the Township intends to use as much of our ARPA funding as we can to lower the taxpayer burden, but it would obviously only cover a fraction of the costs. We have also requested $475,000 from Saginaw County's ARPA funds to cover infrastructure costs for the proposed Township Municipal Complex.
Q11. How do our taxes in Bridgeport compare with the surrounding communities?
A11. The total millage for a homestead residence in Bridgeport is 31 mills. In Birch Run Twp. it is 28-29 mills (depending on school district), in the Village of Birch Run it's 33 mills, in Buena Vista Twp. it's 35-41 mills, in Frakenmuth Twp. it's 29 mills, in the City of Frankenmuth it's 36 mills, in the City of Saginaw it's 41 mills, in Saginaw Twp. it's 32 mills, in Taymouth Twp. it's 26 mills, and in Thomas Twp. it's 28-34 mills.
Q12. What does "the estimated millage to be levied in 2022 is 2.15 mills... and the estimated simple average annual millage rate required to retire the bonds is 1.99 mills" actually mean?
A12. This simply means that the first year that the bond is levied the millage would be 2.15 mills, and that the millage rate would average 1.99 mills over the 20 year period. Every year the millage rate will decrease a little bit. By the time that the bond is retired in 2042 the annual millage will only be 1.73 mills. The bond's debt calculation tables are available to view at our temporary Governmental Center upon request.
Q13. Why was a one-level building design selected?
A13. A study was done and a two-level building required an elevator for ADA compliance, which would tremendously increase cost.
Q14. How was the square footage/number of offices decided for the proposed building?
A14. Square footage was addressed by measuring the square footage of the (now demolished) building. There were many plan versions and revisions. The architect talked to different contractors about the costs, and met with each department head regarding their needs. Township officials also visited neighboring communities' township buildings for inspiration and to better understand programmatic and cost considerations.
Q15. What kind of energy efficiencies are incorporated into the proposed building design?
A15. The proposed design has steel frame walls, energy-efficient windows, and a generator in case of power loss. New construction is also required to comply with the energy code. The current plans are conceptual phase drawings, and most energy saving details will be incorporated into the construction phase drawings at a later point in the project. Incoroporating solar panels into the initial design could increase the cost of the building due to increased dead loads on the roof that would require more robust structural support elements. This doesn't preclude the use of solar panels elsewhere on the site if they make fiscal sense to add at a later date.