Oakland County cities, schools seek millage approvals

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

While voters statewide will be asked to vote on a new road funding plan, Ferndale is asking its residents to decide whether the city should borrow up to $45 million for fix local streets and parks.

The city is one of more than a dozen municipalities and school districts in Oakland County that are asking voters to decide funding and charter issues at the ballot box next Tuesday.

Issues include eliminating two seats on the Pontiac City Council, funding for police in Franklin, school improvements in Farmington and funding for a new elementary school in South Lyon.

There are two ballot questions Ferndale voters will decide: whether to borrow up to $45 million for a renewal to pay for street repairs and park improvements and whether to approve an operating millage renewal of 5.4552 mills for the next 10 years which will raise about $2.7 million in 2016.

“Sixty-five percent of our operating budget is for personnel and without it we will need significant cuts to the budget,” Ferndale City Manager April Lynch said. “That means we would likely have to go department to department and cut jobs.”

There are 135 city employees and more than half are police and fire positions, she said.

Lynch said the street repair renewal is important as well and parrots an effort in other communities, such as adjacent Royal Oak, to keep up with their neighborhood streets.

“Some people are confused thinking the statewide proposal will take care of their neighborhood streets — it doesn’t,” Lynch said. “That only addresses state roads and in Ferndale, that is Eight Mile and Woodward.”

For the owner of a home with a taxable value of $50,000, the first proposal would cost about $273 more a year, the second about $269 more a year for 15 years.

Pontiac charter issues

Pontiac voters will be asked to decide whether to approve revisions to its city charter which would go into effect in January 2016.

City Administrator Joseph Sobota said a panel has been working on language for more than three years and among changes that would take place under approval: making two of the city’s seven council seats at-large rather than by district and redraw the city into five, rather than seven districts.

The council would also have the ability to increase taxes from its current 13.5 mills to the 20 mills allowable under state law.

In another change, a five-member ethics board would oversee public services, including requiring people employed or doing business with the city to disclose their financial interests.

In the village of Franklin, voters will be asked whether to renew a 0.398 millage for police services and general fund stabilization over the next five years. Approval would raise $117,707 in the first year. For the owner of a home valued at $100,000 would pay about $39 a year if the millage is renewed.

In Addison Township, a new millage designated for the North Oakland Transportation Authority would authorize up to 0.25 mills for five years. The levy, to raise about $70,000 in its first year, will go to the authority to supplement operating expenses due to the loss of state, federal and other grants. Passage would cost average homeowner $22 a year, officials said.

9 school district votes

Nine school districts have questions before voters.

■The largest is a 20-year plan in the Farmington school district, where voters will decide whether to approve borrowing $131.5 million and issue general obligation tax bonds.

The bonds would pay for remodeling school district buildings for safety and security improvements; building additions or remodeling existing facilities; improving sites, including outdoor athletic facilities and playgrounds; and acquiring new school buses to replace outdated vehicles.

Two larger proposals were defeated by Farmington and Farmington Hills voters in 2013, the last one by only 250 votes, according to Diane Bauman, school district spokesperson.

“Approval of this will cost the average Farmington Hills homeowner (with a home market value of $152,600) about $92 a year,” she said. “An average Farmington homeowner (with a home market value of $118,600) would pay about $71 a year.”

Berkley is seeking voter approval to borrow up to $58.9 million for additions to buildings, remodeling and equipping schools and developing and improving sites. If it passes, the average owner of a $100,000 home would pay $150 a year.

Birmingham proposes borrowing $66 million for remodeling and equipping school facilities over 20 years to enhance safety and security and other purposes. If it passes, homeowners with a $200,000 home would see no tax rate increase. If it fails, it will save the same homeowner $54.00 the first year and $83 a year each of the next 20 years.

Bloomfield Hills is seeking operating millage renewal for the next 10 years which will raise nearly $32 million in the first year.

Clarkston is seeking an operating millage renewal of 19.2491 mills for next 10 years which will raise about about $7.3 million in the first year.

Huron Valley is asking approval for a facility millage proposal of up to 2.5 mills for 10 years to fund construction or repair of buildings. If approved, about $5.7 million will be raised in the first year.

Northville proposes a millage renewal of 0.9978 mills for five years for construction or repair of buildings. If approved, about $2.6 million would be collected in the first year.

Pontiac proposes to levy up to 2.87 mills for five years for construction and repair of schools. If approved, about $7.1 million would be collected in the first year.

South Lyon is asking for approval to borrow up to $64.4 million to build and equip a new elementary school and early childhood center; remodel and equip schools; equip school buildings for instructional technology; and improve athletic facilities and playgrounds. The millage renewal costs the owners of a home with a taxable value of about $100,000 roughly $110 annually.


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