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Eastpointe

August 13, 2014

Eastpointe renews, extends public safety millage

By Kevin Bunch
C & G Staff Writer

EASTPOINTE — Eastpointe voters approved renewing the city’s 7-mill public safety millage Aug. 5, which secures a funding source that officials said was important for future planning.

A total of 3,263 people came out to the polls, with 2,067 voting to approve the millage and 1,065 opposing it. City Manager Steve Duchane said that was an overall turnout of 13.26 percent, based on the city’s 24,610 registered voters.

The millage partially funds the Police and Fire departments, he said, though a large chunk of it still comes from the city’s general fund. He said the renewal of the millage provides a reprieve, as without it the city’s general fund would have been depleted sooner.

“It’s a positive thing to give the city — continuing on its current path — some sustainable numbers, and it supports our existing programs in the short-term,” Duchane said. “It is just a renewal of the existing millage, so based on our tax base, it does not add new funds. So in perspective, we know (it passed) 2 to 1, but it was a renewal.”

Voter Billy Foxworth said he went for the millage, even though the 7 mills was a higher price than he would have liked.

“We need cops; we need the firefighters,” Foxworth said. “If you say no, then what? I don’t mind the millage; it just looks a little steep.”

Another voter, Kim Miller, said that while he voted for the millage in the past, he went against it this time.

“Yes, response times would be slower,” Miller said. “If we need to, we could outsource it to the sheriff’s department or something. I don’t know. I just can’t afford it anymore.”

Duchane said the millage renewal gives the mayor and City Council time to determine how to handle public safety without immediately doing a bunch of layoffs and staff reductions. He said that simply renewing the millage would not bring the city’s finances back to where they were before the recession.

The state’s proposal to phase out the personal property tax and replace that monetary loss to communities with funds collected through the use tax — a tax on heavy goods purchased outside Michigan — also passed Aug. 5. Duchane said he is expecting the state to follow through on its promises of job creation as the tax ends.

At the border with St. Clair Shores, unofficial results showed about 1,597 residents of St. Clair Shores, and parts of Eastpointe and Grosse Pointe Shores, voted yes. Results showed 1,474 residents voted no for a $25.5 million bond to improve the South Lake Schools district.

The 0.49 additional mills the district will levy to pay off the bond debt over approximately 35 years will pay for new security vestibules at the elementary schools, remodeled bathrooms at the high school and middle school, as well as new locker rooms at the high school. Parking lots throughout the district need repair, as do roofs on many buildings and the district’s bus fleet. The high school’s athletic field will be replaced with artificial turf, and the track will be rehabilitated. The total bond millage levied will now be 7.14 mills.

Staff Writer Kristyne Demske contributed to this article.