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Grosse Pointe Shores Residents to Vote on Exit of Wayne County

The Grosse Pointe Shores council voted unanimously Tuesday to put an advisory ballot issue on the August primary to determine whether the majority of residents want to leave Wayne County and move to Macomb County.

residents will be asked in August to vote about whether they would like their city to secede from Wayne County. Their decision will guide the city council as to whether should continue to pursue the idea.

The discussion began as an update from the council's Move to Macomb Committee liaison, Dan Schulte, and evolved into a vote from the council to garner a decision from the city's own residents.

Schulte said the study has shown that the move would save residents money and potentially improve county services. The estimated savings is about 4 mills, which currently equals about $1.2 million for the city. The savings for a resident owning a home valued at $100,000 would be about $440 annually, Schulte said. For a $1 million home, the savings would be about $4,400 annually, he said.

Councilmen Alexander Ajlouni and Bruce Bisballe questioned why Wayne County residents would ever agree to let the Shores secede considering it is wealthiest city within Wayne County and the largest source of revenue.

Schulte was not dissuaded by their thoughts but said historically when a city has wanted to leave one county to join another, voters have allowed it to happen. Bisballe said he does not believe such a request to Wayne County voters has a chance.

Other council members began questioning what Wayne County voters would be told to persuade them to let the Shores go and whether Macomb County would come through on their promises as outlined thus far in the study. Schulte said he did not believe such a move would require a campaign but councilman Robert Gesell disagreed, saying he believes something of this magnitude would require a hefty campaign including television commercials.

"Sometimes you can cause more harm by trying to oversell something," Schulte said.

Schulte wanted to put it before Wayne County residents for a vote but other council members felt it was more appropriate to find out what the majority of Shores residents want first.

Councilwoman Kay Felt said before such a decision is put before the entire county, she wants to know what how everyone in the city feels about making such a move. Gesell echoed her thoughts.

Schools were a major factor in even establishing the Move to Macomb Committee, when the former council asked the city's attorney, Mark McInerney, to check into whether such a move would change the status being within the Grosse Pointe Public School System.

The answer, shared months ago and repeated tonight, is the district would not change so for those students who currently attend Grosse Pointe Public Schools, they would continue doing so even after the city joined Macomb County.

McInerney, who also represents the school district, said for a district to even consider redrawing its boundaries would be a lengthy, laborious process. Residents of the Shores who would still live within the district would also be allowed to vote on school related issues, he said, despite living in a different county.

The move is something that requires the majority votes from each counties' registered voters, meaning Wayne County registered voters would have to approve the Shores exit and Macomb County registered voters would have to approve the Shores addition.

Resident Gloria Anton, who is on the study committee, addressed the council and said her work showed the Shores contributes $10 million in revenue to Wayne County but county officials cannot provide information about what services they provide in return.

Anton also questioned why any Shores resident would oppose such a move, explaining saving money is appealing to everyone.

Immediately behind her, however, was resident Jim Jacobs, who spoke against it. Although it has been stated now that Grosse Pointe Public School district lines would not be redrawn, Jacobs believes it is not out of the realm of possibilities once the Shores would officially be part of Macomb. That is not a risk he's willing to take, he explained.

The chatter among those attending the meeting Tuesday competed with the council's discussion, to the point that Mayor Ted Kedzierski had to use his gavel a few times to quite the crowd. Other attendees also asked some to quiet down.

Ajlouni said he was not prepared to vote on the issue Tuesday. The topic was originally on the agenda as an update from the committee, not as an action item or recommendation from the committee.

Kedzierski began trying to table the topic until the next meeting but Schulte then said he did not want to leave the meeting without a motion to get it on a ballot for voters.

Then discussion morphed into how such a move could be accomplished without the vote of all of Wayne County. Bisballe suggested that the committee approach lawmakers and state legal officials about getting the law changed to reflect a choice of a city's residents when the city straddles county lines.

There are very few cities within the state that straddle two county lines as the Shores does, which worked in their favor when attempting to keep their municipal court/judge, Bisballe said, explaining it could be used to address this unique situation as well.

Ultimately, the council voted unanimously to put an "advisory vote" on the August primary ballot for Grosse Pointe Shores residents only to say whether they are interested in leaving Wayne County and joining Macomb County.

They also approved a motion by Bisballe to have the study committee host at least two public meetings between now and the August primary for the benefit of residents to provide them information so they may be informed voters on the topic. The motion included that representatives from Wayne and Macomb counties will be invited to share their selling points of why Grosse Pointe Shores should be located in their respective county.

The date and times of those meetings are to be posted, according to their approval.

There are a host of additional issues that would need to be considered, including the maintenance and care of the seawall in Lake St. Clair, which is currently handled by Wayne County. Mayor Ted Kedzierski said he would like to know if Macomb County is going to take on that responsibility.

There would also be other, smaller yet time intensive changes residents would have to make, such as altering wills and a host of other personal documents, Bisballe said.

D M May 16, 2012 at 01:05 PM
There is an area of Grosse Pointe Shores that is in the South Lake School Distrct and very few people are aware of this fact. I know this because I was once a precinct captain for a millage election, and I was assigned the job to canvass our area of Grosse Pointe Shores. Furthermore, the Edsel Ford Estate is in Lake Township situated in St. Clair Shores and when it was a private residence paid taxes to the South Lake schools.
Sheri Kam May 16, 2012 at 01:09 PM
The decision to include these students in the Grosse Pointe Public School System is tantamount to thumbing their nose at the very unpopular school of choice issue voted down overwhelmingly the other Pointes. They want their pick and choices without any consequences. If they take their tax dollars then cut them free. They no longer contribute to the education of their own children, and we should not have to spread our thin dollars even thinner to accommodate this! Educate your kids where you pay your taxes. It is THAT simple.
Sara Eaton Martin (Editor) May 16, 2012 at 02:07 PM
DM, You are correct. The Lake Township portion of the Shores is in Macomb County and therefore any residents of school age would attend Macomb County schools. That remains true and would even if the Shores moved to Macomb County. I'm told, however, that small portion of Grosse Pointe Shores houses mostly residents who do not currently have school-aged children. Families with children who are of school age are choosing to live in what is currently the Wayne County portion of the Shores so their children may be in Grosse Pointe Public Schools. Secondly, as a friendly reminder, Patch policy requires the use of a name. Sara
Marge1 May 16, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Some people are willing to cut off their nose to spite their face. This initiative attempts to cut taxes but risks so much more. The biggest risk is the school district. I didn't move to the section of the Shores that is in Macomb County for a reason. I don't want my kids to go to St. Clair Shores schools, nor do I think Macomb County has a better commission. Sometimes you get what you pay for. I believe the council should stop this recklessness.
Teri Oliver May 16, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Typically GP snootiness. SCS (namely the Lakeview District) has a great school district. Macomb county offers many great school districts. But this debate goes deeper than the school issue, now doesn't it? Being from any one of the Pointes offers somewhat of a status symbol. Please, people. Get over yourselves. Teri
Julie Lattimore May 16, 2012 at 04:10 PM
This would be the greatest thing to ever happen to Grosse Pointe. I hope the Shores still plans on taking the rest of Grosse Pointe with you as mentioned previously. Wayne County is so corrupt and our tax dollars are being wasted. The only city to have done this is in the twentieth century was New Baltimore. They left St. Clair County for Macomb, they too were allowed to do it because they had a section in Macomb County. I don't think it took a vote from the county they were leaving. I have the president of their historical society looking into it for us. We all need to get behind this movement 100%.
Paul Trombley May 16, 2012 at 04:17 PM
The gossip that Grosse Pointe Shores might leave the Grosse Pointe School System is nothing but a scare tactic, and totally false. The legal counsel for both Grosse Pointe Schools and Grosse Pointe Shores has made it perfectly clear this will not happen. NOTHING WILL CHANGE WITH THE SCHOOLS. Wayne County charges huge taxes to all of the Pointes and gives nothing back. Who can blame people for wanting less taxation and more representation? Anyone opposed to this move probably has their fingers in the cookie jar with Wayne County. They obviously do not care about Grosse Pointe Shores. Also, at a square mile in size the Shores is Wayne County’s smallest source of revenue not largest.
Chace Wakefield May 16, 2012 at 04:51 PM
A significant portion of a properties value is based upon what school district the property is in. It has nothing to do with snootiness or status symbols. It is about protecting one of your largest investments, and that is your home.
Chris K May 16, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Bravo to Grosse Pointe Shores for exploring their departure from a corrupt county whose executives who have hailed from the the western end of Wayne County and don't even know Grosse Pointe exists save for when they get our taxes which are then distributed to their cronies by excessively high wages and undoubtedly now will include high legal bills. It is an intelligent electorate that says enough is enough and what can we do to empower ourselves. As for the school issue... there is already a legal opinion saying the boundaries wouldn't be affected and I would think Grosse Pointe Schools would love to retain the tax dollars Shores property taxes generate and would work in any way necessary to maintain the existing school boundaries. Stop getting so excited and see how this plays out!!!
Mark May 17, 2012 at 01:03 PM
If that was true that it was about having a status symbol then the redistricting wouldn't matter. Simply being moved to Macomb County won't change the name from Grosse Pointe Shores so your argument is invalid.
john shell May 17, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Ya Bravo to the Shores and Committee member Anton who had to ask a Wyane Co. offical where the 10mill. goes......DA ever look at your tax bill and see the millage breakdown for the County....jail, courts, parks, roads. Did you hear the commet about who would take care of the breakwall or Lake Shore south of Vernier which is a county road. As for weathly, you guys were broke two years ago and on the State watch list. As for a Macomb County resident we have enough nuts all ready we don't need your BS and committe memebers like Anton
Julie Lattimore May 17, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Dear John, This is our problem, the jails, courts, roads and breakwalls are not taken care of and we take care of our own parks and schools and they are beautiful. I wish we could have a Grosse Pointe County and be part of no other county. Our money would be well spent on ourselves.
Edward Smith May 18, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Great news. We need this to move forward
Phil McDew May 18, 2012 at 12:18 PM
To even be considered by Macomb the Shores should agree to make any repairs to the breakwall and any current Wayne Co. road within the City. The City should also be reassessed and the Board of Commissioners should review the tax or non tax status of the Ford House
Heather Pemberton June 26, 2012 at 12:46 AM
I think if GPS goes to Macomb county all the pointes should.

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