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Oakland Township, Rochester, Rochester Hills

August 12, 2014

Voters support school millage, green space renewal

By Linda Shepard and Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writers

ROCHESTER HILLS / ROCHESTER / OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — Voters in the Rochester Post’s coverage area hit the polls Aug. 5 to vote for primary candidates in several races, as well as a transportation millage for Oakland County, an expiring green space millage in Rochester Hills and a Rochester Community Schools millage proposal renewal.

Rochester Hills Green Space Millage Renewal
Voters overwhelmingly approved the repurposing of an expiring green space millage for local road maintenance, according to unofficial results by the Oakland County Elections Division.

The ballot question earned 8,474 yes votes and 3,094 no votes, with a total of 11,568 votes cast.

In 2005, voters passed a green space millage to generate funds for protecting and preserving green space areas in the city. Since the millage was approved, more than 100 acres of land have been purchased for protection in the city with green space funds.

Approved for five years, the expiring 0.2972-mill green space tax will provide $915,000 for local road maintenance beginning in 2016. Local road maintenance will include snow plowing, pothole repairs on paved streets, grading and gravel applications, and road rehabilitation projects.

RCS Operating Millage Renewal
The voting majority in Rochester Public Schools said yes to the district’s operating millage renewal proposal.

The proposal — which passed 10,494 yes to 3,230 no votes, according to unofficial results — asked voters whether to renew 19.9307 mills, representing 10 percent of the district’s revenue for general school operating purposes, for another 10 years. The district’s current millage was set to expire Dec. 31.

Under the school aid funding formula set by Proposal A in 1994, district officials said the state of Michigan assumes that the district collects 18 mills  — $18 of taxes for every $1,000 of taxable value — on nonprimary residency. Nonprimary residency property, formerly known as “nonhomestead property,” includes business real property, rental homes, vacant land, and second homes and commercial personal property, including business equipment and furnishings. This tax is not collected on homeowners but is required to be approved by the school district’s voters. The renewal will allow the continuation of approximately $17 million in revenues to the district — which represents 14 percent, or $1,082, of the district’s $7,922 per student foundation allowance. The state makes up the remaining $6,840 per student in state aid.

RCS Superintendent Robert Shaner said in a statement that he and the Board of Education  are “extremely grateful” to the voters of this community for their “continued support” of the students of Rochester Community Schools.

“I would personally like to thank the Citizen’s Committee for Rochester Community Schools, chaired by Lisa Wattai, for their tireless work in getting information to the community about the importance of this millage renewal in preserving our ability to provide the comprehensive educational experience our students expect and deserve,” he said in a statement.

Since the passage of Proposal A in 1994, the district has sought approval of this millage twice, in 1995 and 2005. The current 10-year millage was approved by voters in May 2005 and will provide funding through the 2014-15 fiscal year. The renewal of the millage will provide funding through 2024-25.

Oakland County transportation millage
Oakland County voters approved a millage renewal and increase proposed by the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation during the Aug. 5 primary election.

In all, 73.62 percent of voters (73,420 votes) supported the renewal, while 26.38 percent (26,306 votes) opposed it, according to the Oakland County Election Division’s results. The proposal increased the current 0.59 mills levied by the Oakland County Public Transportation Authority for the years 2012-13 to 1 mill for the years 2014-17. The owner of a home with a State Equalized Value of $100,000 will pay $100 per year for the 1-mill tax.

The increase and renewal will allow for the continued support of the SMART public  transportation system, serving the elderly, disabled and general public of Oakland County. The move will generate an estimated $27 million this year and will appear on winter taxes.

U.S. House of Representatives District 8
Two candidates ran for the Republican nomination, while four candidates ran for the Democratic nomination. The winners will compete for one two-year term in November.

On the Republican side, Michael Bishop claimed 35,465 votes, beating Tom McMillin’s 23,376.

Among the Democrats, Susan Grettenberger came out on top with 11,948 votes, followed by Eric Schertzing’s 13,621; Ken Darga’s 3,109 and Jeffrey Hank’s 3,059.

U.S House of Representatives District 11
On the November ballot, voters will choose between Democratic candidate Bobby McKenzie and Republican Dave Trott for the U.S. House of Representatives District 11 seat. Trott, a Birmingham attorney and former Bingham Farms Council member, won the nomination over incumbent Kerry Bentivolio with 42,009 votes.

“Having spent 11 months traveling this tremendous district, I have had the pleasure of talking to so many families, local officials and business owners. The message I hear from them is clear: We need to change the culture in Washington,” said Trott in a prepared statement. “The way to do that is to change the people we send to Washington — people with real-world experience who know what it takes to create jobs and solve problems. I look forward to a positive, productive discussion about the ideas and solutions that will make life better for all Americans.”

McKenzie, a Canton resident and former senior advisor to the U.S. Department of State, earned 13,442 votes and has no previously held elected offices.

“I am honored to be the Democratic nominee and look forward to a spirited debate about how to improve southeast Michigan,” said McKenzie in a prepared statement. He said he plans to “stand up for the middle class. I’ll protect Social Security and Medicare, end tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and invest in public education and infrastructure so we can create good-paying jobs right here in Michigan.”

State Senate District 13
Former state Rep. Marty Knollenberg edged out former state Rep. Rocky Raczkowski by 72 votes for the Republican nomination for the state Senate seat for the 13th District. Knollenberg got 8,788 votes; Raczkowski got 8,716 votes; former state Rep. Chuck Moss got 4,929 votes; Ethan Baker garnered 1,546 votes; and Al Gui got 276 votes.

Knollenberg will face former Clawson Public Schools board member and music teacher Cyndi Peltonen, who defeated attorney Ryan Fishman for the Democratic nomination. Peltonen got 7,620 votes and Fishman got 6,253 votes.

State House of Representatives District 45
The Republican field was contested by three candidates, while Joanna VanRaaphorst ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination for the chance to compete for one two-year term this November.

In the Republican race, Michael Webber narrowly claimed victory at 46.45 percent of the vote (4,026 votes), edging out Mark Avery at 42.71 percent (3,702 votes). Lana Mangiapane was backed by 10.83 percent of voters (939 votes).

State Use Tax Proposal
State Proposal 14-1 also passed during the Aug. 5 election. More commonly known as Proposal 1, it is an attempt to compensate local governments for the potential loss of personal property tax revenue.

Voters approved the measure with 68.16 percent (124,561 votes), while 31.84 percent of voters opposed it (58,179 votes).

Proposal 1 takes a portion of the use tax — a 6 percent tax that the state already collects and that is similar to the sales tax — and diverts a portion of it back to local governments.

The proposal also phases out the personal property tax, which provides an essential revenue stream for some municipalities across Michigan. Local governments collect personal property tax on a depreciating scale on businesses’ industrial and commercial equipment.

For some cities in Michigan, the collection of the personal property tax accounts for more than half of their property tax revenue. In 2012, a new law set into motion the eventual phasing out of the personal property tax throughout the next 10 years. Businesses with less than $40,000 in taxable value assets became exempt Jan. 1, 2014. 

Proposal 1 is an attempt to ensure cities get the necessary funding.

“The bipartisan passage of Proposal 1 is another successful step in Michigan’s economic reinvention and a great victory for the small business owners and our manufacturing companies throughout our state, as well as our local communities,” said Gov. Rick Snyder in a statement issued the night of the election.

“As I’ve traveled Michigan, so many small business owners have been hurt by this burdensome Personal Property Tax,” he said. “I’m proud that we’ve been able to put aside partisan differences and all work together to once again help relieve the tax burden on Michiganders. Today’s vote to remove the Personal Property Tax is one more way we are helping to create more and better jobs in Michigan.”

C & G Staff Writers Cari DeLamielleure-Scott and Andy Kozlowski contributed to this story.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Linda Shepard at lshepard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1065.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond at malmond@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1060.