Wayne: Pension system changes defeated

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Wayne County ballot proposals to create new police and firefighter pension systems and three of four school district measures went down to defeat Tuesday, according to unofficial election results.

Voters in Lincoln Park and Wayne were asked to establish a new retirement system for public safety workers. Each city had two proposals on the ballot: one would establish a new system funded by an annual millage and the other would have allowed the cities to roll over existing pension systems into the new ones.

Lincoln Park and Wayne voters rejected the pair of proposals, according to the unofficial results.

Officials said the plan would have freed up money in the city's general fund used to pay for the pensions of public safety workers.

Brad Coulter, Lincoln Park's emergency manager, estimated the new tax would cost the owner of a $60,000 home an additional $180 per year.

Lincoln Park, a community of about 37,000 residents, has been run by a state-appointed emergency manager since April 2014.

Resident Grover Downs, 58, was in favor of the proposal.

"We count on (our police officers and firefighters)."

Susan Bone, 45, said she hoped voters reject the measure like she did.

"My father was a police officer, so what they're trying to do with the retirement really struck a chord with me," she said.

"Those guys work their butts off for their retirement," Bone said. "Nobody has a right to touch it. They need to leave it alone."

Lincoln Park voters rejected Proposal 1 53 percent to 47 percent and rejected Proposal II 54 percent to 46 percent.

Voters in Wayne also rejected the new pension system plan: The first proposal lost 68 percent to 32 percent; the second, to roll over the existing pension system into the new one, failed 72 percent to 28 percent, according the unofficial results.

Elsewhere in Wayne County, voters in three school districts rejected bond issues, but approved a sinking fund renewal in another, according to unofficial election results with 74 percent of the county's precincts reporting.

Residents in Northville Public Schools approved a millage renewal of 0.9978 mills for five years for construction or repair of buildings. The measure won 68 percent to 32 percent, according to unofficial results.

Officials said the plan will generate revenues of about $2.6 million in its first year. The measure also passed in Oakland County, 67 percent to 32 .

Voters in Grosse Ile Township Schools rejected a $7.4 million, 10-year bond proposal, 51 percent to 49 percent, according to the unofficial results.

The district had sought the measure to pay for large infrastructure projects as well as technology and bus purchases.

However, voters approved the same school system's $2 million, five-year sinking fund replacement, 59 percent to 41 percent, according to unofficial results. The sinking fund is money dedicated for construction, maintenance and repair of school facilities.

And the county's largest school bond measure on the ballot was rejected by voters in the Riverview Community School District, according to unofficial results.

District officials sought approval of a nearly $25 million bond proposal in two parts. A 2.8 mill increase to improve student safety, upgrade technology infrastructure and renovate schools and its companion piece, a 0.9-mill increase to expand the swimming pool at Seitz Middle School and replace the swimming pool at Riverview High School with a Community Health & Fitness Area, were both defeated, 53 percent to 47 percent, according to the unofficial results.

Voters also rejected the same proposals in November.

And in Van Buren Public Schools, voters failed to approve a millage proposal to establish a sinking fund, 57 percent to 43 percent, according to the unofficial results.

School officials said the seven-year renewal would allow the district to levy up to 1.13 mills, generating about $1.7 million next year for building repairs and upkeep.