Wayne may join Eastpointe and Hazel Park in SMORSA

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published April 13, 2016

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EASTPOINTE — The city of Wayne is interested in joining Hazel Park and Eastpointe in the South Macomb Oakland Regional Services Authority, or SMORSA, provided that voters in all three communities agree to the move.

Voters in Wayne would need to approve the 14-mill millage already in place in Hazel Park and Eastpointe, while voters in the latter two cities would need to approve letting Wayne join SMORSA, Eastpointe City Manager Steve Duchane said. The proposal is going to be on the Aug. 2 primary ballot, and if any one city votes down the measure, Wayne would not be able to join the authority.

He said Wayne’s city government has approved a resolution to join the authority, while Eastpointe’s City Council unanimously approved a resolution at its meeting April 5.

Duchane said that if Wayne joined the organization, residents in Eastpointe and Hazel Park would not see any changes to their own services, or how much money the cities receive via SMORSA’s 14-mill public safety millage. Wayne joining SMORSA would instead allow Wayne to also collect 14 mills within its own borders for public safety.

“They’ll have no financial impact on Hazel Park and Eastpointe,” Duchane said. “It doesn’t cost us any more; we don’t profit any more. The voters in Eastpointe and Hazel Park are just approving an option for the people of Wayne to save their city financially.”

Mayor Suzanne Pixley said Wayne is running out of money and is facing bankruptcy and an emergency manager if this does not pass.
“They’re limited by (state) millage limitations, and they can’t raise money any other way,” Pixley said. “Their state-shared revenue has also been cut.”

State statute requires that voters in Hazel Park and Eastpointe also weigh in on adding Wayne to SMORSA, Duchane said, as well as any other communities that may want to join in the future.

Council members Cardi DeMonaco and Sarah Lucido were concerned that the ballot language would be confusing to residents and make them think that the city is raising its current 14-mill SMORSA rate. Duchane said that the ballot language is what it has to be legally, so it would be up to the city government to make sure residents understand that it has no real impact on Eastpointe.

If approved, Wayne would raise an estimated $4.9 million for public safety in its first year; by contrast, Eastpointe raised about $6 million in its first year.

Duchane said Harper Woods is also interested in joining SMORSA at some point, though the city is small enough that it could also raise funds through a special assessment under state law.

More members could give SMORSA more clout statewide in terms of getting the Legislature to change how municipalities are financed so they could stay out of state receivership, he added.

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