RTA, recreation, public safety money on Macomb ballots

Nicquel Terry
The Detroit News

Sterling Heights is asking voters to approve a $45 million plan to expand the city’s parks and recreational offerings while voters in a handful of other communities will consider funding for schools, libraries and public safety.

The recreation funding is among the largest local ballot issues in the county in the Nov. 8 elections.

Countywide, voters will be asked to vote on funding to support the Regional Transit Authority, which is seeking a 20-year, 1.2-mill property tax. If approved by voters in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties it would raise $4.6 billion for public transit improvements, including rapid bus routes, a rail line between Ann Arbor and Detroit, an airport shuttle service and a regional fare card system.

The Sterling Heights proposal would also lock in an interlocal agreement that allows Sterling Heights residents to use Warren Community Center’s parks and recreation amenities at a reduced rate, including an aquatic and fitness center and indoor water park.

Sterling Heights officials say the millage would fund several projects outlined in the Sterling Heights’ Recreating Recreation Initiative, including a dog park, outdoor ice rink, a 122,000-square-foot community center, and capital improvements to 21 neighborhood parks and five major parks.

It would require a 0.97-mill property tax increase costing the owner of a home assessed at $100,000 nearly $78 annually for 20 years.

Officials say both cities reached an agreement that says if the proposal passes, Sterling Heights residents will pay the same rate as Warren residents for Warren recreational facilities.

Sterling Heights agreed to pay Warren an annual lump sum fee of $100,000 to keep resident out-of-pocket rates down.

About 1,600 Sterling Heights residents use the Warren aquatic center, according to the city.

“For a family of four, the interlocal agreement reduces their annual membership cost by $70,” Sterling Heights Parks & Recreation Director Kyle Langlois said in a release. “For our senior population, they will realize significant savings as the daily drop in fee drops from $10 to $2. For our active seniors in Sterling Heights, this is a great deal.”

Sterling Heights will host a forum from 10-11 a.m. Friday at City Hall to address questions residents have about the millage proposal.

“Right now the city of Sterling Heights lags behind other comparable communities with what we spend on parks and recreation,” Mayor Michael Taylor said in a previous interview. “This proposal will give residents opportunities to recreate in new and meaningful ways.”

Among the other local proposals:

■Eastpointe is asking for a five-year renewal of a 1-mill levy to provide money for the operation and maintenance of the city’s public library.

■Fraser will ask voters to approve a proposal that creates a Department of Public Safety Protection Special Assessment District to assess 5 mills and raise about $1.9 million annually to buy equipment and operate the Department of Public Safety.

■Shelby Township is proposing a 3.75-mill renewal for 20 years to fund fire protection services.

■New Haven Community Schools is asking for a 1.2-mill tax levy increase to create a sinking fund for the construction or repair of school buildings.

■Richmond Community Schools is seeking a 20-year renewal of an 18-mill tax levy.

■Romeo Community Schools is asking for an operating millage proposal that calls for a five-year levy of 19.5 mills with 18 mills being the maximum allowable levy.

Twitter: @NicquelTerry