August 5, 2014 at 1:00 am

Eastpointe, Mount Clemens pass millage hikes; Novak leads race to take on Hackel

Workers fix a water main break in Eastpointe. City officials asked voters to OK a charter amendment to renew and make permanent a 7-mill levy for public safety. (David Coates / The Detroit News)

Eastpointe and Mount Clemens residents voted to support millage increases officials say could help the two cities avoid state intervention to balance their books.

Eastpointe city officials asked voters to approve a charter amendment that would renew and make permanent a 7-mill levy for public safety operations that voters passed in 2009. The tax costs the owner of a home with a taxable value of $35,000 a little more than $240 a year.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, the millage passed with 2,067 votes — 66 percent — in support and 1,065 or 34 percent against.

City Manager Steve Duchane said such a high approval rating is a positive but there is still more that needs to be done.

“I think this has been a difficult proposal because it doesn’t solve the city’s woes for the long term. It kind of keeps us on the tracks,” Duchane said. “So it does show investment. It is clearly not a tax increase but a continuation of what has been voted on before.”

In November, city voters rejected two proposed tax increases to bolster the suburb’s finances.

The Mount Clemens charter amendment would allow the city to raise its maximum property tax rate from 15 mills to 20 mills for general municipal purposes, including fire and law enforcement services. The tax would cost the owner of a home with a taxable value of $40,000 about $250 a year.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, the millage increase passed with 1,343 votes for, or 55.6 percent, and 1,072 against, or 44.4 percent.

In the race for the right to take on Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, a Democrat, in the November general election, Republican David Novak won with 17,516 votes — 48.6 percent, with 100 percent of precincts reporting.

In second place is Erin Stahl with 12,887 votes, or 35.8 percent. Randell Shafer trails both with 5,633 votes or 15.6 percent.

Hackel, 52, is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Rick Sinning, a lifelong Mount Clemens resident, said his city’s millage proposal hits close to home.

Sinning, who has worked for the public works department for 26 years, said his employer may take a major hit if the millage is defeated.

“If this doesn’t go through then I don’t know what is going to happen,” Sinning said. “The fire department will be part-time and I don’t know what is going to happen with the police department. It is going to be ugly.”

A computer glitch is being blamed for the county’s website providing election results, reporting that a candidate named Tim won most of the races.

Just after 10 p.m. Tuesday the county election staff said that they didn’t know what caused the glitch. They said they had to restart their programing in the hope of fixing it. Just after 10:30 p.m. the website was back to normal.

In other Macomb County millage requests, with 100 percent of results in:

■Chesterfield Township’s 5-year, 1.25-mill increase for police operations passed with 3,002 votes or 53 percent to 47 percent. The tax would raise more than $1.6 million in its first year.

■Macomb Township’s 10-year, 2-mill levy renewal for fire operations and equipment purchases passed with 6,889 votes or 72.5 percent in support.

■The Clinton-Macomb Public Library District’s 8-year, 0.39-mill increase for operations passed with 12,621 votes or 57.8 percent in support and 9,206 or 42.2 percent against. The tax would raise $2 million in its first year. The millage passed with

■South Lake Schools’ $25.5 million bond issue to pay for building and technology upgrades and school bus purchases passed with 1,597 votes or 52 percent.

■Almont Community Schools’ A 10-year, 1-mill building and site sinking fund passed with 81 votes or 60.9 percent in support.

■Harrison Township’s 10-year, 0.5-mill increase for library operations passed with 52.2 percent of support, 2,279-2,089. The tax would raise about $413,000 in its first year.

Roxana Baker of Eastpointe cast her vote at the Senior Citizen and Recreation Center. The mother of two said the charter amendment to increase taxes was the reason she voted against the proposal. With two children in school every dollar is important she said.

“It is about my pocketbook,” Baker said.

But for Reola Hammond, a 19-year Eastpointe resident, the big issue that brought her out to the polls was the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation millage.

Hammond, who works in downtown Detroit, said she uses public transportation to save gas, money and avoid the stress of driving.

“There is such a need,” she said.
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