July 28 2011

THE TAX ATTIC with Jerry Coon

July 28, 2011 // 0 Comments

Current Social Security rules reviewed The topic of Social Security constantly comes up as part of the talk in Washington these days. It gets especially feisty when they start discussing how Social Security is impacted by whether or not the debt limit is increased. Politicians, bureaucrats and pundits in favor of increasing the debt limit state that if it isn’t raised, the Social Security checks will stop. Politicians, bureaucrats and pundits in favor of not increasing the debt limit state that that’s a bunch of hooey. No one who ever wants to be re-elected would do anything to stop the process of issuing Social Security checks. The checks will go out as normal. I tend to agree with those who are not in favor of increasing the debt limit and no matter what happens, the checks will go out. Our federal government takes in approximately 200 billion dollars every month in tax revenues. According to the Social Security Administration’s website, in June 2011 they paid out 4.326 billion dollars or an average of $499.40 to a little over eight million recipients. That’s 4.326 going out and 200 coming in. Hmmm. I don’t think they will take the risk of refusing to pay out that 4.326. However, the debt-increasing merry-go-round does have to stop at some point in time and now may be as good of a time as any—14.3 trillion dollars of debt might just be good enough. We Americans like to do things in a big way. Well, this is the one time that doing it large is going to hurt us. Budget or spending reform will take into account many facets such as tax reform. Even though I don’t have any personal friends in Washington, it appears like Congress wants tax professionals like me to stay in business well into the future. I’m sure they will be providing plenty of material for future articles. If I’m not careful, I will be writing these articles until I’m as old as Roger Allen! In the meantime, I believe it’s time to review the Social Security rules as they stand right now. The 10,000-pound elephant has entered the room. I mean the baby boomers have begun applying for benefits en masse. Approximately 16,000 baby boomers per […]

Rock the Dam kickoff a rocking hit despite heat

July 28, 2011 // 0 Comments

Studio D2D brings music festival/band concert to downtown by BETH ALTENA “I was really impressed with the youth bands. They seemed to like each other and support each other,” said Dan DeWard of Studio D2D in Rockford, who brings downtown another annual event to anticipate in Rock the Dam battle of the bands. The new event had its first three days of free music in the beautiful setting of Garden Club Park on the banks of the Rogue River on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, July 20-22. Despite breathtaking heat Wednesday and Thursday, the new music event had good turnout and everyone enjoyed the talent and the setting. DeWard said although the event is a contest, the youth performers cheered each other on, applauded and danced during their competitors’ performances. “It felt like a music festival,” DeWard described. DeWard said his panel of four judges took into consideration aspects of the performances of each of the youth portion of the competition, from stage presence, interaction with the crowd and each other, preparedness and organization, among other elements of their performance. A video clip on the Rock the Dam website announces the winners of the youth band for the first session of the battle. DeWard, who is used to organizing weddings and other events as part of his job at Studio D2D, had promised the City of Rockford that the competition would run smoothly and it did. Bands had a tent in which to prepare and solo singers filled the time between performances so the crowd enjoyed a steady stream of musical entertainment. Drawing talent from across West Michigan, nine youth and 18 adult bands from Grand Rapids, Cedar Springs, Greenville, Montcalm County, Kentwood and Lansing have performed (and will perform during upcoming days) a variety of musical styles. DeWard said bands were prescreened for appropriate content, but also for variety. “We wanted to keep it interesting. We didn’t want to be restrictive.” He said styles of rock varied from classic, pop, alternative, country and heavy rock. “We didn’t want anyone to get bored,” he said. The band competition continues August 3, 4 and 5 with music beginning at 5:30 p.m. each of the three days. Each of the upcoming bands are part of the adult division […]

City maintains high AA bond rating

July 28, 2011 // 0 Comments

Household buying level at 111 percent of nation Standards and Poors considers Rockford’s financial practices good under their Financial Management Assessment (FMA) methodology. “In  our opinion the city’s overall debt burden is moderate at 4.3 percent of market value and $3,632 per capital,” read a credit report provided after a review of the city’s bond rating. “In our view, debt service carrying charges were a moderate 10 percent in fiscal 2010.” The financial monitoring company reported that Rockford’s financial future is deemed stable and that the city will continue to make budget adjustments it deems necessary, despite continued decline in state-shared revenues and taxable value reductions. It noted that the city has been cutting expenditures to maintain reserves that “we consider very strong.” Standards and Poors notes that Rockford residents “have strong income levels and benefit from employment opportunities throughout Kent County and the  greater Grand Rapids area.” It said the city, population 5,502, has a median household effective buying income as strong as 111 percent of the national level. T    The unemployment rate in Kent County in 2010 was 10.2 percent compared with the State of Michigan’s 12.5 percent. Although the city’s taxable value has decreased the last two years, but the market value of $84,688 is still considered very strong by Standard and Poors. “In our opinion the city’s tax base is diverse, with the ten leading taxpayers making up 23 percent of taxable value, although shoe manufacturer Wolverin World Wide Inc. makes up ten percent.” The report noted the city expects an increase in state-shared revenue based on an increase in population, and is projecting break-even operations in the general fund for 2011. At the end of the fiscal year for 2010, (June 30) the city had an unreserved fund balance of $1.4 million (55 percent of expenditures), which Standards and Poors considers “very strong.” Fiscal 2012 budget shows a $75,000 surplus in the general fund and expects a $150,000 surplus because it did not budget for additional state-shared revenue. The city levies at 10.9 mils compared to the maximum allowed of 14.0311. “This translates to $620,000 in additional annual revenue the city could raise if city council approves. Management has no plans to raise the millage, however.” City Manager Michael Young […]

Farm market contest exhibits democracy in action for everyone—young, old alike

July 28, 2011 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Newspaper, television and radio coverage of Rockford’s weekly standings in the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest has caused a strong up-tick in Saturday morning attendance at the downtown Rockford Farm Market. After reading and hearing of our improbable current first-place standings in the nationwide contest, farm market lovers from throughout West Michigan appear to be checking us out. First-time visitors are arriving from as far away as Traverse City and Ludington to the north, the entire Greater Grand Rapids metropolitan area, and Saugatuck and Holland to the south. Rockford area residents have always known in their hearts that we have the “world’s” greatest farm market, and now it’s no longer a secret. First-timers quickly fall in love with our market because it is a pure farm market and the essence of “Pure Michigan.” They eagerly seek out the market’s voting site and flock to add their votes for Rockford Farm Market in the annual nationwide contest. Many of these first-time visitors to Rockford Farm Market load their purchases in coolers in their vehicles and then spill over into the downtown shopping district seeking to enjoy a meal, grab an ice cream cone, and then browse through the shops. Rockford’s popular morning breakfast/lunch eatery, The Peppermill Grill, reports consecutive Saturday all-time highs. After discovering the charms of Rockford, hopefully many will return again and again. Now to current contest standings. Rockford still enjoys, as of 11 p.m. Monday evening, a respectable lead in the nation in all market size categories. Voting tallies are as follows: • Rockford Farm Market—1,603 • Venice, Fla.—1,404 • Snellville, Ga.—1,306 • Fayetteville, Ark.—1,128 • Las Cruces, N.M.—863 If you have not as yet cast your vote for Rockford Farm Market, you may do so at www.farmland.org/vote, or easier still you may do so by stopping by the Lion’s Market Master booth any Saturday morning during the farm market hours of 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the remaining five Saturdays of the contest. The contest ends August 31. And remember, the farm market appeals to everyone—young and old alike! Youth especially love the market for its secret recipe freshly popped kettle corn, honey sticks, and the decadent and the ever popular Extreme Cinnamon Swirl bread. But […]

Volley for Mitchell turns 5

July 28, 2011 // 0 Comments

Four additional courts at NRMS to be added to accommodate record participation Volley for Mitchell 4-on-4 Charity Volleyball Tournament turns 5 in 2011 and is receiving a birthday present from AT&T. Tournament organizers recently announced that the 2011 event will be underwritten by a generous gift from AT&T in the amount of $ 3,500. “When we sat around the bonfire in my backyard five years ago, I would have never dreamed that I’d be standing here receiving such a generous contribution,” Jeff Hartnagel commented. “It just goes to show you the commitment that businesses such as AT&T have for the greater good of our community.” In the four years since three friends, Hartnagel, Peter MacGregor and Bill Jackson, sat around that bonfire, Volley for Mitchell, a fundraiser named for Rockford’s Mitchell Peterson who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, has raised over $ 30,000 for the Parent Project in its ongoing battle against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). DMD is the most devastating of the dystrophies diagnosed during childhood. To date there is no cure! The 2011 Volley for Mitchell tournament will once again be headquartered at the Score Restaurant & Sports Bar, 5301 Northland Dr. NE, which has donated the use of their courts since 2008. “The Score has been awesome, and playing on their courts is definitely a big draw for our participants,” said MacGregor. “Having the event at this venue is definitely a big factor in our success.” Saturday, July 30 is the date of the 2011 Volley for Mitchell tournament. Teams participating will be playing on the courts at the Score Restaurant & Sports Bar and beginning this year on the newly developed sand volleyball field located at North Rockford Middle School (NRMS), courtesy of Rockford Public Schools and the entire Rockford community. “These courts were built for the benefit of the community with funds from the 2008 recreation millage. I can’t think of a better event to be hosted on these new fields,” said Dr. Michael Shibler, superintendent of Rockford Public Schools. Details and an entry form can be obtained by contacting MacGregor, co-director of Volley for Mitchell, at (616) 866-3364 or e-mail at clmacgregor@aol.com or by going online to www.volleyformitchell.org. “We had over 150 participants last year. With four more courts, we […]

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