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Grosse Pointe Woods to Seek Voter Approval: 1.85 Mill Hike

The Grosse Pointe Woods council will vote on the Headlee Override next week following their decision this week as the committee of the whole. They intend to ask voters for a 1.85 millage increase in November.

The committee of the whole made a decision this week regarding under the Headlee Amendment as it will exceed the amount allowed solely under council's descretion.

but has evolved in finance committee meetings and most recently in committee of the whole meetings.

The council, absent of Vicki Granger and Rich Shetler, voted informally as the committee of the whole to seek a 1.85 millage rate increase for 10 years. In addition, .

Their informal votes are essentially recommendations they pass along to the official council agenda and both issues are expected to be voted upon next week in a formal council meeting.

The millage will help the council close the more than $600,000 gap between revenue and expenses for the 2012-13 fiscal year, Woods Treasurer Dee Ann Irby has said. One mill in the 2012-13 fiscal year budget is equal to $604,872.

It will generate more than $1 million of revenue for the city in its first year. 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.

The decisions the council made this week are different than where discussions began when they intended to ask voters for a 3 to 5 mill increase and did not intend to seek a dedicated road construction millage.

The Headlee Amendment requires tax rates be rolled back if state equalized property values (about half of market value) are greater than the rate of inflation.

Similar to all of the Pointes and many communities in Michigan, the tax rate  has dropped, therefore decreasing the revenue/operating budget for the city.

The plans to seek voter approval for both millage requests were met with skepticism and negativty this week.

One resident, who is not a regular attendee of council meetings, Mike Juliano said he met with city officials to discuss why they felt it necessary to seek the millage increase and he was only "so-so satisified" with their answers.

He referenced several other millages he believes will be passed at the county level and said the Woods needs to make more cuts.

He then told the council he would personally fight the millage increase with his own money and said if the officials do not have the guts to make the appropriate cuts, they should resign from office.

also questioned why documents made public before the meeting contained blanks that were filled in later. She also requested to see a copy of the exact ballot language the city intends to use, explaining she'd like to see it before the public hearing on the 2012-13 fiscal year budget next Monday.

She questions why the draft she had a copy of did not contain the words Headlee Override, saying it should be clear to voters in November that these increases are overrrides of the current millage that are beyond the scope of the council's power.

Additionally, she requested that the 2012-13 fiscal year proposed budget be posted on the city's website for easier review by residents, to which she was told it was unlikely to happen. She said the massive three-ring binder that is available for public viewing at the front desk of city hall is not conducive or welcoming for residents to actually get into the details of the budget.

Mayor Robert Novitke said the proposed budget would be a part of the council packet for next Monday's meeting and that Pinkos Howle would not be recieving information before the council regarding the budget.

Pinkos Howle said she was not trying to obtain information earlier than the council but in order for residents to truly provide feedback during the budget public hearing, the information needs to be more easily accessible. She offered to help scan in the pages so they could be posted. Then Novitke instructed Dee Ann Irby to "not engage in dialog with" Pinkos Howle.

The city does have budget information on its website but it is out of date and does not include the level of detail of the three-ring binder. It has the 2010-11 budget with previous years leading up to it online.

Resident and former councilman Pete Waldmeir also urged the council to have better communication with its residents, explaining the communication is lacking at best currently.

told the council to form a study committee to review finances of the city and determine whether a Headlee Overrride is truly necessary. The suggestion is late, he said, but late is better than never.

The council is scheduled to meet again Monday May 21, during which they will host the public hearing on the 2012-13 fiscal year budget and are expected to formally approve ballot language for the millage requests of voters in November.

Lisa Pinkos Howle May 17, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Well said Mr. Hensley.
Pete Waldmeir, GP Woods May 20, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Well said, all of you who will VOTE NO ON HEADLEE OVERRIDE! Many of us are not merely voting no, we're asking the tough questions and taking the unpopular (with the city council and administration, anyway) public stance against this ridiculous bailout blank check tax increase. Want to join us? Check out our website for how to help.
Anthony J May 22, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Posting where?
Anthony J May 22, 2012 at 06:06 PM
What website Pete?
Tom Pietrowsky May 29, 2012 at 05:22 PM
My wife and I will be moving to GP Woods in a few weeks. I will definitely vote no on any millage increase in November.

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