Ever since Wixom voters shot down a proposed hike in the city’s charter millage cap during the Aug. 7 primary election, city officials have been taking action to cut expenditures for the current fiscal year by about $ 1 million and discussing what to do next. Although some in the community will certainly cry foul — those who believe the City Council and administration need to bite the budgetary bullet and slash away at expenditures so the city lives within its current means — we were relieved that the council voted last week to seek approval of a more modest millage increase on the Nov. 6 general election ballot, rather than during a special February election.
Voters will be asked in November whether the City Charter should be amended to allow a new, four-year levy of 3.5 mills to provide funds for city operating purposes, including police and fire, public works, and parks and recreation services. If backed by voters, the millage would be collected for the first time in July 2013.
A mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of a property’s taxable value, which is generally equal to half the property’s market value. The owner of a city property with a taxable value of $100,000 ($200,000 market value) would pay $350 in the first year of the new millage collection. The levy would generate over $2.2 million per year.
It had also been suggested that the council forego the general election, instead taking additional time to evaluate the situation and then seek voter approval of a new millage during a February special election. However, a special election in February would cost the city between $5,000 and $6,000.
The notion of having to spend as much as $6,000 in taxpayer money on a special election is ludicrous, especially since the reason for seeking authorization of a new millage is a revenue stream that doesn’t cover planned expenditures. It would make no sense to spend that money — however modest it may seem in the grand scheme of things — on a special election while city officials lament a lack of funding that’s contributed to a budget deficit of about $2 million.
None of this is to say we support or don’t support the new 3.5-mill levy, or the general notion of a subsequent millage proposal of any size — that will be mulled and addressed over the next few weeks. However, we are pleased that the council exercised some restraint and decided to come before voters in November, when an election must be held, thereby costing nothing than what would have to be spent anyway.