Road millage fails in Grosse Pointe Woods — by 11 votes
The Grosse Pointe Woods road improvement millage proposal, which included hiring police officers and replacing a 911 system, failed in Tuesday's primary.
By 11 votes.
The Headlee Override Millage Proposal called for a road improvement program, hiring two public safety officers, maintaining staff levels, repairing facilities throughout the city and supporting a capital improvement bond to fund replacing the emergency 911 system and public-services equipment.
Voters failed to pass the proposal, 2,927 to 2,938 voting no. Nearly half of those who opposed the measure voted by absentee ballots, unofficial results show.
The proposal called for an increase of 4 mills. Homeowners with a home with a taxable value of $95,000 would have paid an estimated $380 per year, or $31.66 per month, according to a release from Grosse Pointe Woods.
The Department of Public Services maintains 55 miles of local roads, 68 miles of water mains and 95 miles of sewer. Officials said 6 miles of roads are in immediate need of repaving or resurfacing.
A 10-year plan for future road projects includes 27 streets and an estimated $12,947,645 in construction costs. Some streets like Vernier need $520,000 for resurfacing and others like Beaufait need an estimated $739,940 for reconstruction.
Longtime resident Mary Beth Calandro said after debating for a week whether or not to vote for the millage, she said she decided "it was important, but I see why many thought otherwise."
"If you didn't read that the millage was an increase over 10 years, then it seemed like a big increase," said Calandro, 69. "People here, they don't like to pay taxes for anything, but there's no such thing as a 'free lunch.' It costs to have parks, service and roads. And some roads are really bad here, like Vernier, which is why I voted for it."
The millage would have given the city the opportunity to replace obsolete equipment and hire officers, which they haven't been able to due to budget cuts.
"I'm just accepting that the voters came out and spoke that day," Director of Public Safety John Kosanke said. "It was very close. You're hopeful that your millage is going to go through."
Kosanke said officials will now discuss how to meet the needs of the city without the extra funds.
The Department of Public Safety in Grosse Pointe Woods has 30 officers, seven dispatchers, four support staff members, one animal/code-enforcement officer and two parking-enforcement officers. The department responded to 11,902 calls in 2017, according to information about the millage on the city's website release.
Resident Jimmy Restuccia voted no on the proposal because of the cost.
"We all would like better services in the city, but people have to be able to afford to live here. The Woods pays the highest taxes of all the Pointes. Oddly enough, we are also the only Pointe to pay our elected council and mayor," said Restuccia, 34. "Property values are increasing and have been increasing since the recession. We may never see 2007 levels again, but the city needs to manage toward the reality we live in. The ask was just way too much, especially considering the recent changes to the federal tax law regarding state and local taxes."
Sue Kloosterboer, a Fraser resident who grew up in Grosse Pointe Woods, has been battling for two years to save Fraser's public safety departments and said she was saddened by the outcome.
"I was very happy to see (the proposal,) then I saw GPW outcome and it saddened me because they will now lose more public safety as we did in Fraser," said Kloosterboer, 61. "The problem as I see it is uneducated voters. The Michigan property tax laws, the pension legacy costs, the law that just went into effect in December with strict requirements of funding the pensions and state reduction is shared revenues.
"Don’t ever think YOUR VOTE does not count."