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Ahee

Woods hosts town halls


Topic is Headlee override


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September 20, 2012
Grosse Pointe Woods officials meet next week with residents at two town hall meetings to discuss the upcoming vote to override the state's Headlee Tax Amend-ment.

The first meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 24. The second is 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 27. Both are in the Grosse Pointe Woods Community Center. City employees, including city administrator Skip Fincham and city treasurer DeAnn Irby, will make presentations to residents and answer questions.


At issue are two millage increases proposed by the city council appearing on the Tuesday, Nov. 6, ballot. One calls for an additional 1.85 mills over 10 years to support the general fund budget, including public safety services, parks and recreation and other public services. The other is a 2.14 mil increase over 10 years that would be used for road construction bonds.

If approved, a Woods homeowner, with a house valued at $150,000 and a taxable value of $75,000, would see an increase of about $300 per year.

According to city officials, the Headlee override is needed to make up for a loss in tax revenue due to declining property values. For example, in the 2007-08 fiscal year, tax revenue was nearly $15 million. In the 2012-13 fiscal year, that revenue dropped to $12 million. The decline in revenue represents a 30 percent decline in taxable property values.

To make up for the loss in revenue with an increase in property taxes, city officials are required to have voter approval for an override of the Headlee Amendment. Passed in 1978, the Headlee Amendment to the state's constitution required cities to reduce millage rates when tax revenue increased greater than the rate of inflation. Local governments have the option of overriding the Headlee Amendment by a vote of the people, and authorizing millage rates set by city charter. In the case of Grosse Pointe Woods, the charter mandates a maximum millage rate of 20.0 mills.

While city officials maintain they have worked diligently to reduce costs, including reductions in the number of city employees, a pay freeze for all non-union city employees, and increasing employee contributions to health care costs, an anti-tax group maintains the city has not made enough cuts.

Led by former city council members Lisa Pinkos Howle, Joe Sucher and Pete Waldmeir, the anti-tax group believes the city should look to further cuts before asking citizens to pay more in taxes. The group, Citizens for Better Government, has turned to social media to take their case to Woods residents.

In addition to a website, grossepointewoodstruth.com, the group has a Facebook page, facebook.com /grossepointewoodstruth.

Likewise, a group of Woods residents in favor of the Headlee override have also formed a Facebook group, Citizens for Our Woods, Our Future, and set up a website, ourwoodsourfuture.

org.

The city also has an informational brochure available on its website, ci.grosse-pointe-woods.mi.us/.


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