Seniors participate in a painting program.

Seniors participate in a painting program.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Senior millage proposal to be on Birmingham ballots this fall

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published September 6, 2023


BIRMINGHAM — Birmingham residents will see a proposed senior millage on ballots Nov. 7 for the area’s aging population.

The city of Birmingham website states that it is expected that Birmingham, Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms and Franklin households with seniors will increase by over 50% by 2045. It is also expected that a significant percentage of residents over 65 years old will be living alone.

The language on the ballot reads: “Do you approve of the addition of a new 0.33 mill levy to collect approximately $1,053,750 in revenue per year to be disbursed to the City of Birmingham for the purpose of making interim improvements and establishing a sinking fund for a senior center that will provide an array of services for older citizens for a three-year term, ending on July 1, 2027?”

If Birmingham voters pass this millage, 0.33 mills would be added to the tax bill, which would be effective July 1, 2024. However, a bond issue that is maturing would partially offset that cost, according to city officials. It is estimated that the actual millage rate would be around 0.08 mills. A mill is $1 tax per every $1,000 of a home’s taxable value. This comes out to be approximately $23 per year for the average Birmingham homeowner, according to the city.

“It will be the first step in making the YMCA and the city of Birmingham better suited to serve seniors and the 50-plus community,” NEXT Executive Director Cris Braun said.


The plan for the existing YMCA building
On July 26, the city officially closed on the purchase of the Birmingham Family YMCA property at 400 E. Lincoln St. in Birmingham for the use of NEXT.

“This commission and previous commissions have always prioritized coming up with a plan that serves senior residents who have invested so much in our community in a way that is stable and up to date. We are thrilled about partnering with the Y to purchase that location and keep that facility as a community asset,” Mayor Therese Longe said.

The YMCA has entered a three-year lease agreement that allows them to continue to provide services. Once that lease ends, NEXT will occupy a majority of the square footage of the YMCA building. At this point, the YMCA plans to continue to occupy a smaller portion of the building.

“It is an exciting opportunity,” Braun said. “We are both service-oriented organizations, and we both provide excellent opportunities for residents in the community, so I think we will be very well suited to share a building.”


Providing funding for a senior center
If approved, funds from this millage would go towards the city’s plans to repurpose the existing YMCA building for the use of NEXT.

Specifically, the millage would be used to conduct interim improvements to the building and property and establish a sinking fund that would set aside money to assist with the cost of permanent improvements.

“We don’t know right now what we are going to have, so we are going to study the buildings, do a cost analysis, understand what the community needs are, and then build a building around that. … We are just going to modify the building to be better suited to serve seniors and to be able to continue with the programs that NEXT has, as well as enhance our programming with things that we don’t have room to do here at Midvale,” Braun said.

This millage would potentially not provide complete funding for the senior center project; however, the city is anticipating the consideration of a general obligation bond issue once the millage expires.

“​​We definitely are going to do a thorough space planning and utilization review, and that will lead us down the path of what we might need to do to the structure and whether a bond issue would be required down the road,” Longe said.


Services offered by NEXT
NEXT is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports the local aging community through services and resources for people over age 50.

They currently operate out of Midvale School without a comprehensive lease, but once they move into the new building, they will have more space to provide helpful services to seniors.

“We have programming that ranges from fitness to arts to travel to lifelong learning and enrichment, as well as support services that allow community members to age in place safely and independently,” Braun said.

They are up to over 2,300 members, and they currently serve an additional 400 members in the community with their support services.

“Our building here with just 10,000 square feet and four classrooms and a lobby is just not adequate to meet the needs of this growing population,” Braun said.

Braun emphasized the importance of supporting vulnerable members of the community.

“Up until this point, city taxpayers in Birmingham haven’t been called on to do so because we have had a different arrangement, but now that our arrangement is changing, it is important that the community understands the need and the respect and honor that goes into caring for our most vulnerable residents — and school children and our older adults are certainly in that category, and I think that is what good societies do,” Braun said.


More information
A Q&A on the proposed senior millage is available at

A group called Citizen Supporting Seniors is made up of citizens advocating for the millage. They can be found at