Wayne Co. to put parks millage renewal on Aug. ballot

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

This story has been updated to correct the amount the tax would cost the owner of a home worth $100,000.

Wayne County Commissioners on Thursday cleared the way for the renewal of a parks millage to appear on the August election ballot.

The commission voted 11-4 to place the proposal before voters on Aug. 2. It calls for renewing the millage for another five years to pay for operations and upgrades to several county parks and related facilities, including Hines Park, Elizabeth Park, Chandler Park and municipal parks in the county’s 43 communities.

By law, commissioners had to approve the resolution to put the renewal on the ballot.

If approved, the renewal would not result in a property tax increase and generate $9.8 million in its first year, according to officials. The tax costs homeowners in the county less than a quarter of one mill in their annual property taxes or about $12.30 a year for a house worth $100,000.

Commission chairman Gary Woronchak, D-Dearborn, introduced the resolution approved by the commission.

Before the vote, Wayne County Corporation Counsel Zenna Elhasan raised questions about the omission of Detroit’s Historic Fort Wayne, which had been included in versions of the parks millage approved by voters in the past. Voters last approved it in 2010.

“I’m just cautioning (the commission) that it is a substantive change to the ballot proposal,” she said. “The language has been drastically changed. And that is a concern.”

Commissioners pointed out the 175-year-old army fort on the Detroit River is not a county park.

Woronchak said it was important to update ballot language to better reflect the millage’s purpose and its funds will be spent.

“It keeps faith with taxpayers from all parts of the county who have generously supported the county parks millage over the years, by returning value to communities that don’t have any county parks,” he said.

“This proposal provides equity by increasing the allocation in districts with more limited resources, including Detroit. And, importantly, it continues to provide vital funding for the maintenance and operation of our beautiful county parks.”

Commissioners Alisha Bell, D-Detroit, Irma Clark-Coleman, D-Detroit, Martha Scott, D-Highland Park, and Jewel Ware, D-Detroit, voted against the measure.


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