MML to host Proposal 1 forum

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published March 25, 2015

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Residents who want to listen to supporters and opponents of a May road tax ballot proposal can do so in the weeks ahead.

The Michigan Municipal League will sponsor the Safe Roads Symposium March 31 at the Velocity Collaboration Center in Sterling Heights.

The forum will discuss a May 5 election in which Michigan voters will decide the fate of Proposal 1, which supporters say will fund necessary road repairs throughout the state. The MML has endorsed the ballot proposal.

The forum’s panel is scheduled to feature:

• Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy.

• Christine Johns, superintendent of Utica Community Schools.

• John LaMacchia, legislative associate of state affairs for the Michigan Municipal League.

• Robert Livernois, superintendent of Warren Consolidated Schools.

• Wayne Oehmke, president and CEO of the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

• Carmine Palombo, deputy executive director of the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.

At the March 17 City Council meeting, City Manager Mark Vanderpool briefly discussed the symposium, adding that the general public is invited to attend, and there is no need to register.

When later discussing road repairs within the city’s boundaries, he said a successful Prop 1 would allow the allocation of “another almost $6 million more a year” toward roadway improvements just in Sterling Heights. If approved, the state proposal would also produce another $10 million for spending throughout the county every year, he said.

Vanderpool said the city’s 2013 Safe Streets Proposal was for neighborhood road improvements, but major road improvements “really are funded by the state.”

He used Mound Road, a county road, as an example of a road that is not under the city’s jurisdiction.

“So roads like Mound, although they’re being piecemealed in various ways and, you know, Band-Aids (are) placed on them, we need long-term fixes,” Vanderpool said, listing several county roads.

“And, obviously, there’s insufficient funding at the state level currently and the county level to improve those roadways,” he said. “However, they will be accelerated quickly if we have additional road funding.”

Some residents spoke about their opposition to Proposal 1 during public comment. Resident Jazmine Early announced that a Proposal 1 informational meeting will take place at 7 p.m. March 25 at Nick’s 22nd Street Steakhouse in Shelby Township. A speaker from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy will attend, she said. 

Early summarized a list of reasons to oppose the measure compiled by the anti-Proposal 1 group Concerned Taxpayers of Michigan. She criticized the portion of the proposal that would raise the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent.

“Raising the sales tax effectively makes all goods more expensive,” she said. “Essentially, it increases the cost of living in Michigan. People need to earn more to live here.”

She also called the ballot language “dishonest” and said gas taxes would increase.

“A plain reading of the ballot proposal misleads voters to falsely believe that the gas tax is being cut,” she said, “when, in fact, the … sales tax (on gas) is replaced with a higher wholesale tax that will raise the cost of gas about 7 cents per gallon.”

The Michigan Municipal League will hold the Safe Roads Symposium from 6:30-8:30 p.m. March 31 at the Velocity Collaboration Center, 6633 18 Mile Road in Sterling Heights. Learn more about the symposium by calling (586) 884-9322. Learn about the league by visiting www.mml.org.

Learn more about the Proposal 1 meeting that will feature the Mackinac Center for Public Policy by visiting the Sterling Heights/Utica Republicans’ website, shur-republicans.com. Find out more about Concerned Taxpayers of Michigan by visiting michigan taxpayers.com.

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