Narrower Maple Road, millages on Oakland County ballots

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Millions of dollars in school repairs and the size of a well-traveled road in Birmingham are among the questions voters in five Oakland County communities will decide Tuesday.

Waterford voters are being asked to approve a $100 million bond renewal earmarked for repairs, improvements and some new construction. The work will involve the district’s 15 school building sites used by 9,500 students, according to district spokesperson Rhonda Lessel.

“This is a zero increase to the current tax levels of seven mills,” Lessel stressed. “It will stay at seven mills.”

Residents are assessed the $7 per $1,000 of valuation of property. So a person with a home valued at $200,000, or a state equalized value of $100,000, would continue to pay about $700 annually.

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Lessel said the renewal, over 20 years, comes after a similar question was approved by voters in 2003, which went primarily toward construction or expansion of schools.

Lessel said that if the renewal is approved, the money will be used to replace roofs, boilers, crumbling sidewalks, heating and cooling systems and windows and doors at schools, the average age of which is about 47 years, she said.

“There are some technology projects and new construction plans,” Lessel said. “If the bond question fails these are needs that will have to accomplished from tapping another source, the township’s general fund.”

Birmingham street width

In what an official described as a “very rare” city charter question, voters in Birmingham will be asked whether West Maple should be required to be left at two lanes in each direction.

Resident James Mirro says he became concerned after city officials approved a study and project to alter a one mile stretch between Southfield and Cranbrook roads from four lanes to three lanes with a center turn lane. Temporary restriping was done in advance of construction. About 20,000 vehicle use the road daily.

“The idea was that reducing traffic would result in less speeding and fewer accidents and so far that has been the case,” City Manager Joe Valentine said.

Critics of the narrowing plan believe it will result in traffic backups and motorists seeking alternate routes through neighborhoods.

If the proposal passes, city officials could put a charter question on the 2017 ballot asking residents whether they want to reverse the decision.

Pontiac school, city

Voters in Pontiac have three questions before them, two school millages and one city charter revision.

Voters will be asked whether the current millage rate limit on city taxes should be renewed by 18.50 mills ($18.50 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for 20 years (2017-36) for school operating costs. It is a non-homestead millage which is assessed on businesses and landlords and does not impact homeowners.

It is estimated that, if approved and 18 mills are levied in 2017, the revenue would be about $27.6 million a year.

A second millage proposal would allow the school district to levy a new 2.87 mills ($2.87 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a building and site sinking fund to make improvements and repairs. The levy will run for five years — 2016-20 — and cannot be used for salaries, maintenance or other operating expenses, district spokesperson RoNeisha Mullen said.

It is estimated approval would mean school district revenue in 2016 of about $7.2 million. It will cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $140 a year, Mullen said.

The first asks whether the city’s election commission should include the city’s treasurer instead of the city’s assessor.

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