Macomb Co. residents to decide safety, school millages

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Voters in two Macomb County communities will be asked Tuesday to decide two emergency services funding proposals and school millage renewals in three districts.

Roseville residents will cast ballots on the renewal of a 20-year millage to pay for the city’s emergency medical service. The tax rate for the proposal is 0.35 mills, but because it’s a renewal, its approval won’t result in a tax increase. City officials said the measure will raise $302,488 in its first year.

“It’s a continuation of what has been on the books,” City Manager Scott Adkins said. “If it doesn’t pass, then we’re looking at trying to find $300,000 elsewhere in the budget to continue the service and I’m not sure we can guarantee we can at this point.”

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Adkins said the majority of the calls the Roseville Fire Department receives are for emergency medical service and the number of calls has increased over the past two decades. Last year, the department received nearly 5,000 medical emergency calls — about 3/4 of its total run volume, he said.

The millage, which pay for part of the cost for paramedic service in the city, was first approved by voters in 1995. Because of the drop in taxable value since 2008, residents are paying less for it now than they were when it was first implemented, he said.

“It’s a service the city directly provides to residents and we want to continue to do that,” Adkins said.

Harrison Twp. police, fire

Harrison Township is seeking approval of a tax hike to pay for police and fire services in 2017 and 2018.

The proposal calls for raising the millage 1 mill to 8.2 mills for two years. If approved, the measure would cost the average owner of a $100,000 home an extra $44 per year, township officials said.

Suprevisor Ken Verkest said the millage is one of two the township collects. The other is for the public library.

Like other Metro Detroit communities, the township has wrestled with a decrease in property values, which has affected its ability to fund the fire department, the community’s largest expenditure. Verkest said the community has done a number of things to lower the department’s costs: deficit spending, wage and benefits concessions from firefighters, arbitration to get more concessions and staff cuts.

“We just don’t have any other options available to us,” he said.

If approved, the millage would generate $7.1 million in its first year. Most of the money, or about 6.4 mills, would be used for fire services, while the remaining 1.6 mills would be used for police. Harrison Township provides fire service to its residents, but it contracts police services with the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office.

4 school millages

The L’Anse Creuse Public Schools and New Haven Community Schools are asking residents in their districts to renew operating millages. Renewing the millages, each an 18-mill levy on commercial, business, and rental properties in the districts, will not increase homeowners’ taxes.

Officials with L’Anse Creuse, which serves Harrison Township as well as parts of Clinton, Chesterfield, and Macomb townships, Mount Clemens and St. Clair Shores, said the millage makes up 13 percent of its operating budget. The district uses the budget to pay for things such as classroom supplies, textbooks, equipment, utilities, transportation and staff.

Officials with New Haven Community Schools said its operating millage provides 21 percent of its annual operating budget. The district serves the village of New Haven and portions of Chesterfield, Lenox, Macomb and Ray townships.

Clintondale Schools in Clinton Township also has two millage proposals on the ballot. The first is the renewal of a non-homestead millage, which is set to expire next year, for general operating expenses. The second proposal calls for raising the millage rate from 16.7 mills to 18 mills.

If approved, the proposals will not result in a tax increase for homeowners because the millage is levied only on commercial, business and rental properties, officials said.

The measures are expected to generate an extra $160,000 in revenue for the district — which will be used to pay for notebook computers, school computer lab equipment, increasing school Wi-Fi coverage, software to boost student academic performance and student tutoring programs.

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