DTE tax cuts may cause harm to MCCC

The DTE coal plant, as seen from Woodland Beach, generates power for customers.

Know your own power. 

DTE uses this slogan in many of its advertisements.

Currently, it is trying to make Monroe County and MCCC know its power.

DTE has filed with the Michigan Tax Tribunal to lower the taxable value of the DTE Fermi 2 plant as well as the DTE Energy Monroe Power Plant.

“To say DTE is a major part of the tax base here in Monroe is an understatement,” said MCCC President Kojo Quartey.

The current taxable value of DTE’s coal plant is $486,341,600 and they are seeking a 58.2 percent cut.

This could result in a loss of nearly $15.6 million in property taxes for county entities.

The requested cut for Fermi, 60 percent, could lose the county $11.6 million in property taxes.

The loss of revenue would likely  cause serious issues for both the county and MCCC.

“We’re very aware of this situation,” said Vice President of Administration Sue Wetzel. “We’re trying to plan and be sure for what could happen.” 

“We take our responsibility very seriously in terms of our financial responsibility to our students and community,” Wetzel said.

Wetzel, along with other campus officials, has been planning for the impact these cuts could have on MCCC.

Should DTE be successful in their requested reductions for both plants, MCCC would see approximately $1.145 million lost in general fund revenue.

Property taxes make up half of all MCCC general fund revenue. 

The $1.145 million would equal an 8.76 percent decrease in property tax revenue and a 4.32 percent decrease in overall general fund revenues.

In addition, this will impact the Improvement Millage passed in 2016. 

The millage is a five-year plan to improve facilities on campus through property taxes.

There are currently three of five years left.  

The total impact could be about $1.5 million out of an anticipated total revenue over the five years of $26 million.

While this will not change renovations of the East and West Tech buildings, it may cause modifications or cancellations on future projects.

Scholarships could be affected as well. 

Privately funded scholarships set up by donors would be safe, but the ones funded by the college – such as the instructional scholarships – may have to be looked at.

Aside from scholarships and renovations, this could also affect the ability of students to excel off of campus.

Over 85 percent of the student body lives in Monroe County, as do a portion of staff and professors.

 “People need to know the impact this is going to have on their life, whether it's at the community college, the library, or police and fire,” Wetzel said. “People owe it to themselves to know.” 

While DTE has not directly reached out to the college, there has been contact between DTE and the governments of Monroe County and Frenchtown Township.

A collective of entities here in Monroe is working to hire an attorney to fight DTE.

MCCC has offered to host a meeting on the subject this fall.