10-year jail millage renewal placed on August ballot in Wayne County

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — The voters of Wayne County will be asked on Aug. 2 to approve a 10-year renewal millage for the county jail.

The Wayne County Commission voted Thursday to put the renewal millage on the August ballot. The millage asks to continue the dedicated property tax of 0.9358 mills per year from 2022 through 2031.

The renewed millage would generate about $45 million a year for jail operations, with a minimum 0.1 mill being set aside for a new juvenile offender work and training facility, according to county officials. 

The proposed millage renewal is being called Proposition J and would cost the owner of a $150,000 home about $70 per year, according to the county.

By year's end, county officials expect completion of the new Wayne County Criminal Justice Complex. In 2023, inmates will be moved from downtown to the new facility, off Interstate 75 and Mack.

Wayne County Circuit Court and the county prosecutor's office will also move to the new complex.

When the move is complete, Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures will assume control of the land.

That was the deal struck between the county and Gilbert in April 2018: Gilbert would finance the budget overruns of the jail build, out of his own pocket if need be. In return, he would get the downtown land. 

More:Wayne Co. commission OKs land swap for Gilbert jail

At the time, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans described it as "the best deal we could have hoped for given the circumstances,” which included the county's failed attempt to build a downtown jail under his predecessor, Robert Ficano. 

Wayne County Commission Chair Alisha Bell, D-Detroit, stressed that the millage request is a renewal and wouldn't be a tax increase. 

"These funds are especially needed to help in the operation of our jails and sheriff’s department," Bell said in a statement. "This is a renewal, not a new millage."

Proposition J's language on the Aug. 2 ballot will appear as follows: 

Proposition J     

To renew the millage authorized in 2012, shall Wayne County be authorized to continue to levy this millage at the 2021 rollback rate of .9358 mills (about 94 cents per thousand dollars of taxable valuation) for ten more years (2022 through 2031) for any of the following previously authorized uses: To acquire, construct, and/or operate jail, misdemeanant, or juvenile incarceration or detention facilities, and for adult penalty options such as work release, home detention and community restitution; with at least one-tenth of the millage used to acquire, build and operate a juvenile offender work/training institution? This renewal is estimated to generate approximately $45,074,507 in property tax revenue in 2022.