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2 Town Halls Scheduled for Woods Tax Millages

Grosse Pointe Woods officials will host one nighttime and one daytime town hall for residents to review the tax millage increases being requested for approval by voters in November.

After approving final ballot language for in that must be voter-approved in November, officials have set two town-hall style meetings intended to provide residents with information.

Setting the town hall meetings came with some discussion about whether council should be present, the need for multiple meetings versus just one and some concern about the turnout related to opposition.

Ultimately, the council decided during a Committee of the Whole meeting that two informational sessions--one at night and one during the day--would suffice. City employees will be presenting basic information about the millage requests and answer questions of residents.

The first town hall  meeting is scheduled for Monday Sept. 24 beginning at 7 p.m. The second is the later the same week, Thursday Sept. 27 beginning at 10 a.m. The meetings will happen in the Grosse Pointe Woods Community Center.

Additionally, a three-page informational handout is available throughout the city and public safety offices for residents, which explains the information about the city's finances, a budget summary from 2007/08 fiscal year with projections through 2023/24 fiscal year as well as basic information about Headlee Override.

The city is asking residents to approve two millage increases:

  • 1.85 millage rate increase for the general fund for 10 years
  • 2.14 millage rate increase to pay for up to $10 million in road construction bonds

A mill equals about $600,000 in revenue for the city. For a property owner, a mill is equal to 1/1000th of a dollar so for every $1,000 of taxable value a property owners pays $1 in property tax.

For a home with a taxable value of $100,000, homeowners would pay $185 annually for the first millage request and $214 annually for the second millage request.

The council can approve a 0.4 mill increase without voter approval, but to seek the millage rates the council ultimately decided upon Woods voters must OK an override of the Headlee Amendment. The amendment in part requires tax rates be rolled back if state equalized property values (about half of market value) are greater than the rate of inflation.  

The tax rate in the Woods has dropped below the maximum allowed of 20 mills to between 14 and 15 mills, and the city will ask voters to return to or near the 20-mill level.

City Attorney Chip Bershback requested to review any informational documents that were going to be made available to the public after Mayor Robert Novitke inquired during a Committee of the Whole meeting what information could be included. "Anything factual," Bershback said.

The Headlee Override requests have been met with strong opposition by some residents, including former councilwoman that could be made before asking residents to pay more taxes. She listed a variety of cuts during the budget hearing earlier this year.

Meanwhile, a resident who does not regularly attend council meetings came to one last month asking council what their plan was to maintain services despite the ever-dropping property values.

She explained that she and her husband decided to move to the Woods for the services related to their family, such as the pool and park activities but that she had concerns because her taxes keep decreasing due to the drop in property values.

Novitke answered her questions during the meeting and nearly all members of council personally introduced themselves to her after the meeting and thanked her for coming.

Meanwhile, there are two groups working on campaigns related to the millage increases--one against and one in support. The group in support has been meeing quietly and has not yet publically advocated for the millages but some residents have received letters asking for money to help fund the support campaign.

Chris K September 06, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Mike: Thank you. I have to wonder why those who support this millage aren't asking why the other Grosse Pointes aren't in this serious a predicament. Why they aren't asking for ten year hand outs!
Katie September 06, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Please let us all have respect for one another and our differences (yes Pete Waldmeir’s frustrations too). Let’s check ourselves (me too at times), keep it in perspective, come together, work together for solutions for all - to preserve our lifestyle and great community.
Gloria September 06, 2012 at 11:28 AM
I agree with you on being courteous in all our posts to the Patch. The Patch has offered a way for ideas to be shared. Thanks for that! Another idea might be to create a "Special Contributions" fund so those who support the 10 year tax will be able to dedicate "their" money to the city. Then the additional tax burden need not be placed on those that do not support this 10 year tax burden. Just a thought...
Katie September 06, 2012 at 11:52 AM
Gloria, I agree - great idea. In GPF the city is dedicating $20k-$30k from the general fund (all taxpayers) to not only clean up the accretion at Lakeshore/Moross, but plant aesthetically pleasing foliage. Maybe the Lakeshore residents (with riparian rights to that property) will have all the taxpayers to their homes afterward for cocktails.
Pete Waldmeir, GP Woods September 06, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Chris - if that is your real name and you're not just some wimp PR guy that Kevin Kette hired to write this crap - you make me ashamed that we named our younger son Christopher. Why don't you just come out and admit it: You're a racist and you're proud. I know Gloria well. She lives two streets over from me. I live over a fence from Grosse Pointe Shores. Let me tell you something, big shot. Raising taxes to keep "those people" you apparently fear so much out of the Woods is stupid. Check the calendar, Ace. This is 2012. "Those people" live in the White House.
Lisa Pinkos Howle September 06, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Chris: You got all your information from George McMullen's/Kate Barr's website, neither of whom served in any capacity. Here are the real facts: Retiree’s positions were filled by multiple part-timers or didn't need to be filled because the City was already bloated. That should be obvious because there was no change in services. The 5 furlough days conveniently coincide with major holidays. No pay increases only if the employee is non-union, otherwise raises are contractual. Plus 3% was given to each and every employee well after the economy tanked. The reduced pension multiplier only applies to new hires, so that saved nothing because remember, there should be no new hires-but there are- new Assessor 2012 and many others approved by council. Retirees no longer have their co-pays reimbursed by the City which was happening for years. The employees do NOT contribute to their health care premiums. Property tax collections have remained about the same through 2011 and you have no idea about fiscal year 2012-13 do you? See- regurgitating what is posted may be giving you the wrong message. And you are disseminating wrong or incomplete information. Check your facts first. We are Patch readers.
christopher September 06, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Pete, trust me when i say your poor son Christopher is probably more shamed to have a last name synonymous with lies, hate, corruption, back stabbing, quitter,friendless, scab etc...not to mention your personal demons this whole town is aware of.....I think the shame came a long time ago.
christopher September 06, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Lisa, is their a problem if a furlough day coincides with a holiday? it's unpaid either way correct? at least it softens the blow to the poor employees who are not at fault for the fiscal situation or are you just a hater of anything that works for GPW?
Pete Waldmeir, GP Woods September 06, 2012 at 11:50 PM
You are an idiot. And a coward. Admit it.
Chris K September 06, 2012 at 11:53 PM
To christopher or LIsa: as to the comment below. Do you know if employees pay deductibles for their healthcare? At one time in another Grosse Pointe city (roughly 5 years ago) the family health care deductible was $100 for the entire year! I know it has been raised but are the working paying less for their deductibles than retired people with Medicare? How many working people are paying co-pays and deductibles in the $1000 - $2500 range every year! I don't see anything in the material the city has issued that deals in SPECIFICS. "The employees do NOT contribute to their health care premium"
Mike Karwowski September 07, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Addressing the health care premium issue only, under PA 152, there are two alternatives from which cities can choose to control the cost: "hard cap" limits and 80/20 cost sharing. The annual hard cap limits in place for 2012, as defined by PA 152, are: $5500 (Single); $11,000 (Married); $16,500 (Family). The average 2012 costs in Grosse Pointe Woods are: $4,230 (Single); $10,200 (Married); $12,300 (Family). Grosse Pointe Woods elected to take the "hard cap" option with its employees which, as you can see, yields no savings since the current costs fall below the hard cap threshholds. Had we gone the 80/20 premium sharing route, there would have been immediate savings as well as pressure to hold the premiums down.
christopher September 07, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Idiot, coward? harsh words from a 93 yr old 80 pound shell of a man, but in the end its still better then being a Waldmeir.......
Erwin M. Fletcher September 07, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Chris, I could not agree more. The name Waldmier brings shame upon all who carry it. Pete is one of GPW's most pathetic citizens, the entire community will be enriched when he is no longer part of it.
Katie September 07, 2012 at 01:00 AM
What was I thinking? Ugh. I Tried.
Katie September 07, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Seriously Erwin M. Fletcher - Your comments are disgusting. I'm not defending Waldmeir - but no matter how much someone annoys you - you are going to have to live with that statement. I wouldn't want to meet the Man upstairs with that one.
Erwin M. Fletcher September 07, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Christopher, thank you for standing up for this town. Grosse Pointe is not for everybody, especially those that want to live here on the cheap. If we need to raise taxes to keep the riff-raff out than so be it. If it drives out pathetic has-beens like Pete Waldmeir than all the better. We need people that are proud to live here and have the means to do so.
DDPIII September 07, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Katie, believe me when I tell you-waldmeir is bad people. He is the problem here, not Erwin or Christopher. waldmeir would bus people here from Compton if it meant saving him a couple dollars. Many--including myself, have generations of ancestors of GPers and WILL NOT let any of the Grosse Pointes go to hell in a handbasket. waldmeir would much rather get back at people who know his personal ugliness than help better the city of GPW. "He who lives only to benefit himself confers on the world a benefit when he dies." - Tertullian Furthermore Katie, I'd be willing to wager that waldmeir doesnt even realize women are now allowed to vote. .
Erwin M. Fletcher September 07, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Katie, you may find my comments to be repugnant, but don't lose sight of the larger message. Pete Waldmeir is cancer to the community. He has little time left so he is unconcerned about the big picture and longer term issues facing the city. Believe me he would have taxes brought down to $0 if he could so anyone could move here and destroy our great community. He will laugh at all of us from the grave if he is able to bring GPW to it's knees.
christopher September 07, 2012 at 09:59 AM
Chris K, I believe each employee pays $110 a pay check toward their medical insurance, plus an additional $49 toward their retiree healh care each payday. The prescription co-pay doubled from $10 to $20 a script.
Gloria September 07, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Katie, You did try and should know in your heart YOU did the right thing! Thanks.
Chris K September 07, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Thank you for the specifics. If I understand the two posts, when the new law was passed by the Michigan legislature and effective in 2012, public employees were required to pay more for their health care ...and you give the numbers above but I still wonder what sorts of annual deductibles are associated with the monthly costs. is it $1000, $1500. I also "suspect" that until the legislature intervened the health care benefits of public employees were far more generous than in the private sector.
Katharine Barr September 07, 2012 at 11:25 PM
Erwin, thank you for your kind words above. As far as contributions go, hard caps are strategic and help save the city money. Should the 80/20 instituted, the city could be looped into paying for very expensive negotiated health care plans and would have to pay 80% regardless-- potentially costing more than a hard cap. (This same political logic can also be applied to understanding why earmarking monies for public employees could also backfire in negotiations: "But the money is there, doggonit, it's earmarked!; you must spend it on us.") Public conversation is a great thing; however, I do hope, out of respect for every resident following this thread, that accuracy of statements (from both sides) take top priority: GPW employees absolutely contribute to health care premiums and they are as follows (annually): Single $233 Couple $2640 Family $2051 More facts regarding the ballot proposals and city finances can be found at our web-site: www.OurWoodsOurFuture.org And let me know if you would like a lawn sign!! :) Thanks, Kate
Just testing....I want to play the game just like you girls do! (Erwin, DD,etc).
paul September 10, 2012 at 08:26 PM
It is so refreshing to see residents finally understanding the damage this man has done.I find Pete's comments to be very enlightening considering he was once a member of this BUBBA system.He was there and saw the corruption and sense of entitlement.I admire him for calling them out.Cut the spending.No tax increase until you actually improve the city.Just filling buildings is not planning.The worst example is an urgent care when we have 3 major hospitals all ten minutes away.Cutting public safety also.Now that was really stupid.People no longer feel safe for good reasons.It was time for a huge change years ago.
KJL September 12, 2012 at 02:03 PM
I will be voting NO and NO on both proposals. I've lived in GPW for 21 years and have witnessed muich mismangement. No bid contracts. Wasteful spending. Political cronyism and corruption. Conflicts of interest. Over spending in many areas of the budget. Streets replaced that didn't need to be. Other roads left in disrepair. It all smacks of mismanagement. When times were good this city spent money like a drunken sailor. Now that times are tough, the city just doesn't know what to do...so it asks for money. A tax increase would be sending good money after bad. We need to get rid of Novitke and the rest of the officials that simply don't know a thing about fiscal responsibility.
Gloria September 12, 2012 at 02:33 PM
KJL - AGREE with you! See cuts below that the council can cut before they want additional taxes from us! Please sign up for a yard sign on our site so we can unite against increased taxes! For a breakdown detail of items listed below go to: https://grossepointewoodstruth.com/YOUR_TAXES.html BUDGET AREA PROPOSED SAVINGS Council 63,380. Community Ctr 2,128. Commissions 10,000. Mgmt Infor Sys 8,400. Court 64,340. Major Streets 21,500. Administration 3,500. Local Streets 14,100. Building Dept 12,080. Motor Vehicles 90,000. City Attorney 127,118 911 Emergency 1,500. City Clerk 104,183. Water Sewer 4,200. Treasurer 9,200. Municipal Imprv 60,700. Assessing 2,825. Public Safety 0 DPW 6,800. Parks/Rec 34,762. TOTAL $639,716
paul September 12, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Pick on Pete all you want but the man is right.Actually one to be admired for stepping up and not being concerned about those who will call him names.Kinda goes with their methods.Point is,why give money to a guy who has proven he has zero experience with it.Not too long ago boasted about a 28,000,000 surplus.Where is it?If he was a c.e.o of a company he would be called a failure and fired.The blacklisting of those with new ideas is over.Rochester is just finishing a gorgeous new downtown.People will pay for that,not private parties and fewer police.Mack ave is indeed the last frontier.Step it up or plan on failure.I will gladly pay my share for more police and safety but no free ride.We need to court new ideas,build the avenue and broom the mindset that thinks we are just fine.A booming mack ave equals higher home values.Example...Birmingham and Rochester.Want more taxes?Justify it.Show us a plan and not salons,banks or resale shops.There is huge opportunity here but time is thin.
Chris K September 12, 2012 at 09:56 PM
paul: The mayor and council are not interested in citizen input. Residents spoke about the budget with $600,000 of identified cuts at the budget hearing.The council members who bothered to attend the budget hearing (Ms. Granger was absent) made not a single comment before unanimously passing the budget. In Berkley, before they placed a Headlee override on the ballot they appointed a citizens committee where citizen input was solicited about the state of affairs and what was being done or could be done to contain costs. NO such committee was organized here in Grosse Pointe Woods. No citizen input. Apparently Council has all the answers.The decision to place the initiative on the ballot and the discussions took place in a 12x18 room where the COW meets. An efficiency study about Woods operations was rejected by council early in 2012. Both the Detroit Water Department and Wayne County have uncovered massive savings from their efficiency studies. The literature supporting the Woods Headlee override threatens cuts if it does not pass but it isn't specific about where the cuts will be because they have no idea. Supporters would rather let residents' imaginations run wild and believe that public safety would be cut first. An excellent scare tactic but useless in these times. We need to come together as a community and talk about our future... not pave the way by passing tax proposals that provide blank checks , no accountability and no plan for the future.
paul September 18, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Wrong,Pete is smart.Maybe the mindset that GPW is some awesome place works for a few but the facts are the facts.It is right on the edge and will not get a bailout like G.M. There's alot of damage done because of massive disbelief that no planning was needed.I heard about a master plan in the works 20 years ago.Where is it?
Gloria September 25, 2012 at 02:40 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ty5BgDNleLo&feature=plcp Please feel free to watch how receptive the Grosse Pointe Woods officials were to the residents when they asked for an open forum for Q&A!

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