Oakland: Birmingham road change, Waterford millage OK’d

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Voters in Birmingham rejected a ballot proposal that would have prohibited changes to Maple while voters in Waterford school district approved a $100 million school bond request.

County elected officials expected a high turnout, up to 39 percent, of the county’s 926,234 registered voters because of the excitement over the presidential primary.

“There was a lot of excitement with the candidates coming to Michigan for debates,” County Clerk Lisa Brown said. “That generates more voting interest.”

Birmingham voters rejected a charter amendment question on whether West Maple should be required to be left at two lanes in each direction. With 100 percent of the nine precincts reporting, 61 percent of voters were opposed to blocking any changes vs. 39 percent who supported the amendment.

City resident James Mirro gathered enough signatures to get the question on the ballot after he became concerned when 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 any road construction.

Mirro said he was disappointed with the results, but “we can live with it.” He said he still has concerns the traffic pattern changes could result in accidents or injuries to pedestrians.

“It was always our goal to get this before the voters and we accomplished that,” Mirro said. “We have no plans to challenge this further. The people apparently have spoken.”

About 20,000 vehicle use the roadway daily.

In Waterford, with all 37 precincts reporting, voters were supporting a 20-year, $100 million bond renewal by a margin of 64 percent to 36 percent. The millage would address needed repairs and improvements and some new construction over 15 school building sites used by the district’s 9,500 students.

“We are extremely thrilled,” district spokeswoman Rhonda Lessel said. “The community, the parents have supported this and it’s evident that we will be able to move forward to work on some critical areas — from boilers to infrastructure concerns.”

Residents are assessed the $7 per $1,000 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 for school construction needs.

A similar question approved by voters in 2003 was used for new construction or expansion of the district’s schools.

Voters in Pontiac approved three ballot questions.

They OK’d a charter amendment on whether the city’s election commission would include the city’s treasurer as opposed to the current seat traditionally held by the city assessor by a 71 percent to 29 percent margin with all 21 precincts reporting.

Voters approved by 63 percent to 37 percent, with all 33 precincts reporting, the renewal of the current millage rate limitation on city taxes by 18.50 mills ($18.50 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of 20 years (2017 to 2036) for school operating costs. It is a non-homestead millage which is assessed to 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.

Voters also approved by a 59 percent to 41 percent margin a new millage that will allow the school district to levy a building and site sinking fund millage of 2.87 mills ($2.87 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) to make improvements and repair district facilities. The levy will run for five years — 2016-20 — and cannot be used for salaries, maintenance or other operating expenses.

“I’m so excited, this will enable us to provide conditions that are safe and conducive to the learning of students,” Superintendent Kelley Williams said, on news that voters had approved both school millage questions. “This will enable us to make needed repairs to doors and windows and fix boilers ... fundamental repairs that are sorely needed.”

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.

This is the third time in less than a year to create a sinking fund in Pontiac. In August, a similar question lost by 116 votes and in May, it was defeated by 1,537 votes.

A Goodrich Area Schools proposal was on its way to approval early Wednesday with 62 percent of voters opting to support the operating millage renewal, with 11 of 12 precincts reporting. The measure would allow the district to continue to levy 18 mills on all property, except principal residence and other property exempted by law.

The estimate of the revenue the school district will collect if the millage is approved and 18 mills are levied in 2017 is about $1.1 million. This is a renewal of millage that will expire with the 2016 tax levy.


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