EastpointeAugust 8, 2012
Eastpointe says ‘yes’ to ballot issues
By Sara Kandel
C & G Staff Writer
Eastpointe voters said “yes” to two city charter amendments and the library millage proposed on the Aug. 7 ballot.
With about 19 percent of the voting-age population coming out to vote, the city saw an average turnout with no landslide victories but clear results for each city proposal.
City Proposal A, which called for a restructuring of the role between City Council, the city manager and the finance director, passed with 2,146 votes, or by about 54 percent of voters.
“That’s a charter amendment that will actually make the finance director, a tested and evaluated position, responsible under city service to the city manager, so someone can know what they are doing on a daily basis,” explained City Manager Steve Duchane before the election.
Previously, the city finance director was hired by and answered to City Council. Amendments to sections 14, 15, 17, 26, 27 and 41 of chapter three of the city charter will be read into action at an upcoming council meeting.
While most residents favored the change, some spoke out against it. Eastpointe resident Patrick Killeen said he was against the amendment because the city doesn’t have enough money in its coffers to pay an almost six-figure salary, when they’ve been managing with only an assistant finance director just fine.
City Proposal B — another charter amendment — called for changes to the city regulations governing waste removal, recycling and public works contracts. The current language limits such contracts to three years, which could hinder the city’s ability to save on costs for those services, officials say.
“If you do it that short term they can’t give you a good price,” Duchane said previously. “They have to invest the equipment and make sure they are getting a return on the equipment, and it ends up costing the city a lot more.”
Duchane added that shorter contracts also limit the city’s ability to work toward a joint agreement.
“If you do it that short, we can’t do any joint bidding with someone else because most cities go five to seven years.”
Proposal B was approved by about 58 percent of voters, or 2,259 votes.
“They certainly aren’t sexy proposals, but they are good for business, good for efficiency and good for modernization, so we are poised to do better business in the modern area of public administration,” Duchane said.
City Proposal C, calling for a 1-mill library millage increase, saw the greatest support with almost 70 percent, or 2,977 votes, favoring it.
The increase would bring the total library millage to 2 mills, estimated to bring in about $900,000 a year.
Four years ago, 1 mill in the city of Eastpointe generated about $700,000 annually. In the 2012-13 budget year, the value of 1 mill dropped to $460,000 and operating within a 1-mil budget became impossible, officials said, forcing the Friends of the Library to cover the cost for all books and materials brought into the library in the past year.
Because of the decline in property values, Duchane said that although the millage would be a tax increase, for most residents, taxes would still be lower than they were a few years ago.
“For the average homeowner in Eastpointe, the 1-mill levy will cost $35 a year,” Duchane said.
The 1-mill levy will cost homeowners $1 per $1,000 of taxable value. The cost of the millage increases with the taxable value of the home: $20 a year for a home worth $20,000, $45 a year for a home worth $45,000, $60 a year for a home worth $60,000, and so on.
The proposal is written so the 1-mill levy will be stopped after five years. It is expected to bring in about $460,000 in additional revenue to the library a year. It will be levied on the winter tax bill.
Library Director Carol Sterling hit the polls yesterday evening to cast her vote as a resident and to provide voters information about the requested millage.
“In 2014, the library will be 75 years old,” she said. “We all really want to see the library make it to 75 years.”
She celebrated briefly after learning the millage passed then went right to work.
“We have a lot to do,” she said. “We are working towards getting a collection of downloadable books and we will need to get a materials budget in order. We’re all so excited, but now there’s a lot to do.”
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