Green space fund provides everlasting stewardship

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published April 23, 2014

ROCHESTER HILLS — A trust fund utilizing green space millage dollars aims to provide perpetual stewardship.

“Fifteen years ago, the city had a strategic plan,” said Gerald Carvey, Rochester Hills Green Space Advisory Board chairperson. “Out of that plan came the desire to save green space. The citizens agreed to a millage to buy green space and to allow some of that money to be used for stewardship.”

In 2005, voters approved a 0.3 mill 10-year tax levy to acquire and preserve green space. In 2013, voters approved revising permissible use of the millage revenues to provide stewardship — including the protection, care and maintenance of green space, and to improve pedestrian accessibility.

The city’s Green Space Advisory Board develops strategies and makes recommendations to the Rochester Hills City Council regarding the expenditure of the millage funds to permanently preserve natural green spaces, wildlife habitats and scenic views while protecting woodlands, wetlands, rivers and streams, and expanding the Clinton River greenway and other trail corridors.

Since the board has been in place, board members have recommended acquisition of more than 11 properties, with five properties acquired by the city. A trust fund will provide a permanent revenue stream for stewardship.

By a 5-0 vote April 7, the Rochester Hills City Council approved the green space perpetual trust. Council members Kevin Brown and Adam Kochenderfer were absent from the meeting.

“The actual dollar amount (of the trust) will be determined at a future date,” Council President Greg Hooper said. “It will be funded at a future time.”

“At the end of the millage collection period, the green space advisory fund will have almost $8 million available,” said Rochester Hills Director of Finance Keith Sawdon. “I would never recommend you place all that in the trust. My recommendation is to ease into the trust and take our time.

“The money is available and has been received from the taxpayers,” Sawdon said. “The trust has a long-term nature. We are providing a revenue stream that will provide stewardship for your green space and natural feature properties well beyond us around this table — for our kids, our grandkids and their kids.”