In Wayne, local offices, road repairs on ballot Tuesday

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Voters in more than a dozen Wayne County communities will cast ballots Tuesday on municipal and school district ballot proposals and residents in more than two dozen cities will decide contests for mayor, city council and other offices.

The largest ballot proposal is Woodhaven-Brownstown School District’s $57.4 million bonding proposal.

Mark Greathead, the district’s superintendent, said the bond will be used to improve student safety and security, additions and upgrades to the high school, renovate and buy equipment for all of its schools, replace about 20 school buses and improve playgrounds and athletic fields.

“They’re all critical needs that we’ve identified,” he said. “The average age of all of our facilities is 42 years old, so there’s constant and continuous maintenance.”

If approved, the measure will not raise the district’s tax rate.

Greathead said he’s optimistic voters will support the measure. Residents in the district approved a $90 million bond issue in 2002, renewed its 10-year, $10 million sinking fund in 2011 and backed a non-homestead millage renewal last year by more than a 2-to-1 margin.

However, if it should fail, the district will analyze what voters didn’t like about the proposal and likely come back with another one in the future.

Grosse Ile residents will vote on a 20-year, $18.8 million bond proposal to pay for road and water main improvements. If passed, the township will repair almost all of the island’s roads and replace its water mains’ 60-year-old cast iron pipe with 12-inch ductile iron pipe to improve water pressure.

Officials said if approved, the average annual millage rate to retire the bonds is 2.12 mills, which means the owner of a home with a market value of $250,000 will pay on average an extra $264.59 a year.

Lincoln Park is asking voters to approve a new retirement system for police officers and firefighters that’s funded by an annual millage. Officials would levy 6 mills in the first year to generate about $3 million. The new tax will cost the owner of home with a $60,000 market value an additional $180 per year, according to officials.

The city council will assess the millage each year, capped at 6 mills. It also could decide not to assess the tax once the pension system is financially healthy.

Emergency Manager Brad Coulter said the proposal aims to free up money in the general fund used for police officer and firefighter pensions to be used for things such as hiring new officers and road repairs.

Voters in the city rejected a similar proposal May 5.

“It only lost by 300 votes last time, which is a pretty slim margin,” Coulter said. “It was also on the same ballot as the (Proposition 1 sales tax increase and road funding boost).”

In Livonia, voters will elect a new mayor, treasurer and city clerk because of term limits. They’ll also choose four city council members.

In Wayne, County Commissioner Richard LeBlanc, D-Westland, is vying against Realtor Jody Rice-White for city clerk. If LeBlanc wins, there’ll be a vacancy on the county commission.

Voters will also choose the city’s next mayor and fill four vacant city council seats, one at-large and three representing wards 1, 2, and 3.

Meanwhile, incumbents in two of the county’s troubled communities are facing challengers.

Highland Park Mayor DeAndre Windom is being challenged by Hubert Yopp, who was elected to a four-year term in the office in 2008. Residents will also elect a new five-member city council.

Highland Park has struggled with its finances for years. Last year, a state-appointed financial review team declared a financial emergency in the city.

In Inkster, voters also will choose a new mayor. Mayor Hilliard Hampton announced earlier this year he was not seeking re-election. Like Highland Park, Inkster is in a financial emergency.

Voters will also decide city council, clerk, mayoral, and treasurer races in Allen Park, Belleville, Dearborn Heights, Ecorse, Flat Rock, Garden City, Gibraltar, the Grosse Pointes, Harper Woods, Melvindale, Northville, Plymouth, Riverview, Rockwood, Southgate, Trenton, Wayne, Westland and Woodhaven.

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