Berkley voters reject community center bond, pass capital improvement millage

Huntington Woods voters pass road, sewer bond

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published November 6, 2018

 Berkley voters rejected a bond proposal for a new community center, as seen in this Stantec conceptual rendering.

Berkley voters rejected a bond proposal for a new community center, as seen in this Stantec conceptual rendering.

File rendering

BERKLEY/HUNTINGTON WOODS — Voters in Berkley rejected a big proposal Nov. 6 that would have seen a new community center built in the city.

With all seven precincts reporting, the Berkley community center bond proposal was rejected with a tally of 4,500 no votes to 4,352 yes votes, according to the Oakland County Elections website’s unofficial results.

“Certainly, we thought we had something that could be a gem in the community, but this is why you ask the residents for their guidance,” City Manager Matt Baumgarten said of the vote. “We had a fantastic, dynamic group of residents that really took up the cause and advocated for this, and (we’re) very appreciative of their work. I think the closeness of this election shows just how hard they worked, how much energy they put into trying to see this vision realized.”

The close race saw the votes against the bond account for 50.84 percent of the vote, while the votes for the bond accounted for 49.16 percent.

Had the bond proposal passed, up to an amount of $15,375,000 would have been borrowed, payable in not to exceed 21 years, to pay for a new community center.

Baumgarten said the next steps will be figuring out what changes and tweaks the city could make on its community center proposal, and see if it can find something that is more agreeable to the residents’ tastes.

“The buildings don’t get younger,” he said. “The conditions of those buildings, they’re still 17 years older than they were ever built to be. We still want to provide a broader range of activities to the community. We still want to be able to host events that suit the tastes and the preferences of all of our residents, instead of just, you know, younger children and the senior population. So all these things are still goals. We just have to figure out how to meet these goals in a different way.”

While there isn’t going to be a new community center built in Berkley for the time being, voters did approve the capital improvement project millage by a wide margin, 6,131 votes in favor compared to 2,657 votes against. The millage received 69.77 percent of the vote in support compared to 30.32 percent against.

The millage will levy 2 mills for 10 years, from 2019 through 2028. According to the ballot’s language, the money raised, which will be approximately $1,142,783 during the first year, will be used “to acquire and construct capital improvements for the city, including roads, streets, water, sewer and other capital improvement projects.”

Baumgarten said the millage won’t appear on the residents’ taxes until July.

“We’ll be able to start the engineering work, design the projects in advance of that, but we won’t be able to realize the cash flow for construction until after July of 2019,” he said.

Huntington Woods voters also had a big proposal on their hands, the sewer and road rehabilitation and improvement bond proposal.

The proposal passed with 3,441 votes in favor compared to 664 votes against, a margin of 83.82 percent of the vote compared to 16.18 percent.

With the bond’s passage, the city will borrow up to $7,845,000, payable in not to exceed 16 years, for the road and sewer rehabilitation. The work will include “acquiring and constructing sewer and road improvements, including sewer rehabilitation and replacement of existing sewer lines, together with related and adjacent road reconstruction and related water improvements.” The estimated millage to be levied in 2019 is 0.77 mills.

City Manager Amy Sullivan said the first step of the rehabilitation will be for engineers to design the repairs that need to be done and the specifications.

“Then we go out for bids. A bid would be awarded I would expect sometime early next year, (we) would sell the first series of bonds, and then we’ll hopefully start in spring of 2019,” she said.