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Eastpointe passes public safety millage

Cardi DeMonaco elected to finish council term

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published February 25, 2015

 Tom Ostrowski, president of the Command Officers Association, keeps those gathered at Cloverleaf abreast of the election results as they become available.

Tom Ostrowski, president of the Command Officers Association, keeps those gathered at Cloverleaf abreast of the election results as they become available.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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Voters in Hazel Park and Eastpointe decided to approve the 14-mill public safety millage on the ballot during the special election Feb. 24, which will raise money for both cities under the South Macomb Oakland Regional Services Authority.

Eastpointe voters approved the measure 1,602-1,025, while in Hazel Park, 616 voters approved the measure and 227 opposed it. Under Michigan law, the total number of votes between both cities determined if the measure passed, so the total vote was 2,218-1,252.

“While I can never proclaim that property owners paying more taxes is a good thing, a very important and necessary historical decision was made in Eastpointe today,” City Manager Steve Duchane said in a statement. “Our residents used the democratic process to support our local police and fire response system, which have been the core services of government since Colonial times.”

The city government estimated that this would cost an average of $347 to each household in Eastpointe, starting on the summer tax bills. The millage should raise about $5.8 million annually for Eastpointe through SMORSA, which the city believes is enough to plug the city budget deficit without laying off police and firefighters.

The authority does not do anything more than act as an entity that takes in the money and then gives the taxes collected in each individual city to its respective public safety department, Duchane said.

Nick Sage, president of the Eastpointe Firefighters Association, was thrilled with the millage’s passage.

“The Eastpointe Firefighters are humbled and very thankful to the voters of Eastpointe,” Sage said.

Since the recession hit and cut property values, Eastpointe has dipped into its general fund to finance public safety, but it has been unable to offset that money through previous cuts, Sage told the Eastsider in February.

The majority of voters also selected Cardi DeMonaco Jr. as the candidate they wanted to fill the remainder of Eastpointe Councilman Bill Sweeney’s term, following Sweeney’s death last fall. DeMonaco received 1,394 votes. The other two candidates, Monique Owens and Serina Pinkston, received 578 and 262 votes, respectively.

The City Council had appointed DeMonaco to fill Sweeney’s seat until the special election, and DeMonaco now will sit on council until 2017.

“I’m glad the millage passed in Eastpointe, and glad I was successful in my election,” DeMonaco said. “I look forward to working with the residents of Eastpointe and working together for a better Eastpointe.”

Pinkston congratulated DeMonaco on his victory and expressed her interest in the next race for a council seat.

“Overall, I think we all ran a good race,” Pinkston said. “I’m glad that it’s over, but I look forward to the next one.”

Owens could not be reached immediately.

Assistant City Manager Randy Altimus said turnout was low, but not unexpectedly so. He said 2,634 residents voted, or roughly 10.87 percent of all registered voters in the city of Eastpointe.

“Only about 5 percent actually voted at the polls, so it was kind of a 50/50 split between absentee voters and those who showed up at the polls to vote,” Altimus said. “Some of these smaller elections, it’s been consistent around that 10-12 percent (range). Do I wish it were more? Yes, but that seems to be the way the trend has been going.”

Altimus said he is not sure if the bitterly cold weather kept people from going out to the polls, but precincts largely were quiet.

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