3 Wayne communities to vote on street, school, charter

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Voters in three Wayne County communities on Tuesday will decide a street improvement bond, school millage renewal and a city charter revision.

Romulus is seeking approval of a 10-year, $25 million street improvement bond.

Robert McCraight, the city’s director of public services, said the bond be split into two parts, which ultimately will end in 2027. If approved, the measure will cost the average owner of a home in the city an additional $100 a year, he said.

Under the proposal, which would pay for neighborhood street improvements, the city will levy a tax of 3.53 mills each year. The money will be used only for those street repairs, McCraight said.

“There’s currently no financing solution to repair our neighborhood city streets,” he said.

Romulus has 74 miles of neighborhood streets and a good portion of them are not in the best condition, McCraight said. Citywide, Romulus’ streets average a 4.1 on the state’s Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating scale, he said. On that scale, a score of 10 is for roads that require no maintenance and a one means pavement needs to be replaced.

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McCraight said the bond won’t enable the city to fix every street in the city, but most of them will get makeovers.

“There are a lot of concrete panels that just need to be replaced and we have some asphalt roads ... that need to be completely milled down and recapped,” he said. “Anything else is just going to be a band-aid.”

Inkster charter revision

Voters in Inkster will decide a request for a general revision to the city’s charter.

Mayor Byron Nolen said approval of the proposal is the first step in rewriting the city’s 51-year-old charter to switch Inkster’s council-city manager form of government to a mayor-council form.

“If residents vote yes on the question, then there will be an election for a charter commission,” he said. “Once we have a commission, they’ll come up with changes that will be put before voters.”

Under the current form of government, Inkster’s city manager is responsible for day-to-day operations. The city’s treasurer, Mark Stuhldreher, currently serves as interim city manager.

Nolen said the council-manager form isn’t working for the city and it’s time to change it.

Inkster has operated under a consent agreement with the state since 2012. It accumulated a $12 million deficit in the three years before that, under a city manager’s watch, he said. In addition, Inkster has had eight city managers in 16 years, he said.

Nolen hopes charter revisions can be put on a ballot in time for the November 2016 election, he said, but “it’ll depend on how fast the charter commission works.”

Riverview school millage

Riverview Community Schools is seeking a renewal of its operating millage for 10 years.

The tax would be levied only on commercial, business and rental properties, so homeowners’ taxes won’t rise. If approved, the measure will provide $1.9 million in its first year.

“This proposal is an 8 percent chunk of our total budget,” Superintendent Russell Pickell said. “If this doesn’t go through, we essentially become a deficit district.”

He said the district would likely have to lay off staff and increase class sizes to offset the loss.

In May, voters soured on the state’s Proposal 1 road funding initiative rejected the district’s two millage proposals.

The first, which would have raised $19.9 million, was a 2.8-mill increase to pay to improve student safety, upgrade technology infrastructure and renovate schools. The other, a 0.9-mill increase, would have raised $4.7 million to expand the swimming pool at a middle school and replace the high school’s swimming pool with a community fitness area.

Pickell said he is optimistic voters will approve the renewal.

“It’s not a tax increase and it’s the same millage businesses have been paying since Proposal A passed (in 1995),” he said.

cramirez@detroitnews.com