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Grosse Pointe Woods

November 14, 2012

Woods plans next steps after ballot proposals fail

By April Lehmbeck
C & G Staff Writer

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — City officials will be taking a close look at the city’s finances to see what they need to do to maintain the budget now that two ballot proposals failed to garner enough votes last week.

The city asked for an additional 1.85 mills for the general fund and a 2.14-mill proposal that would have funded up to $10 million in road construction bonds. Both would have expired in 10 years had they been approved.

Instead of getting the green light from the voters, the city needs to head to a plan B. About 61 percent of voters cast “no” votes on the general fund millage proposal and more than 54 percent of voters voted against the road proposal.

“As disheartening and frustrating as the results are, maintaining core services is what makes our city a destination community for people to enjoy all of the excellent services we provide, such as public safety, Department of Public Services, Parks and Recreation (Community Center), Building Department, Assessing, Code Enforcement, Municipal Court, Finance, City Clerk, Information Technology and Administrative Services,” City Administrator Al Fincham said in an email.

City officials had said prior to the election that the city had seen falling revenues in the last several years and costs the city incurred had continued to rise. They had taken measures, like cutting staff and looking for ways to consolidate services to protect residents from feeling the pinch in a loss of services, but they said they were at the point where more cuts would be felt by residents.

In the email, he praised the city’s employees, adding that “all departments will be reviewed closely.”

“Long-term meaningful cuts are in personnel,” he said. “Personnel cuts will result in a reduction of a combination of the services we provide.

“Additionally, savings towards future capital improvements will not be achieved for such items as patrol vehicles, fire and EMS apparatus, as well as Public Services vehicles and equipment,” he said.

When they are done poring over the budget for places to save money, administrators plan to bring their recommendations to the council in the upcoming few weeks.

“Our mission is to continue to provide essential services to our residents from a customer-service-based philosophy,” he said.

Citizens for Our Woods, Our Future, a group of residents who were working in support of the proposals, were also disappointed in the outcome of the election.

“Thank you, everyone, for your support over the last few months,” the group stated on Facebook after the election. “At the end of the day, both proposals were voted down. While disappointing, we always respect the voter and the voting system of which we are a part. Here’s to a wonderful community, a giant network of support and a dedicated committee. Thank you all, again.”

While not everyone was happy with the results, the residents who were part of Grosse Pointe Woods Truth had been fighting to defeat these measures, arguing that the city did not need the funding it was requesting and that the residents could not afford it. Opponents noted on the Truth website that the millage proposal went down by more than 2,000 votes and the road proposal lost by almost 900 votes.

The opponents included several former members of council who didn’t seek re-election: Lisa Pinkos Howle, Joseph Sucher and Pete Waldmeir.

“Thank you all for your support in helping us keep City Hall accountable,” the group stated on its Facebook page. “We are victorious!”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer April Lehmbeck at alehmbeck@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1043.