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.