The Wixom City Council voted Tuesday, Aug. 21 to place a new millage ballot question for municipal operations before voters during the Nov. 6 general election.
Voters will be asked whether the Wixom City Charter should be amended to allow a new dedicated levy beginning July 2013 of 3.5 mills (equal to $3.50 on each $1,000 of taxable value) for four years to provide funds for city operating purposes, including police and fire, public works, and parks and recreation services.
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.
“In the event the ballot proposal passes, we will still continue to change how we operate and reduce costs, there’s no question about that,” said City Manager Mike Dornan. “The goal is to maintain services and reduce costs.”
A resolution calling for ballot question was adopted by the majority of the council in 6-1 vote, with only Councilwoman Lori Rich opposing the initiative.
“I don’t think we’ve adequately listened to the community’s concerns and fully developed a plan, which takes time, so I think something on the February ballot would be best,” Rich said.
However, a special election in February would cost the city between $5,000 and $6,000.
“If we wait until February, we would have to pay and we’re trying save money so that doesn’t make sense,” said Deputy Mayor Jim Cutright. “We do have a plan — a three-year budget that’s ongoing and changes every year, but it’s a plan in effect. We will still be looking at other measures to be financially responsible. Everything is open for discussion.”
The council had already voted to cut five items from the budget in the wake of the Aug. 7 primary election defeat of a millage cap increase, including the elimination of the finance clerk position, cutting overtime leaf collection, capital outlay, and capital improvements, as well as leaving vacant police sergeant positions unfilled. Those cuts will remain in place if the millage passes.
The city is facing an estimated deficit of over $1.7 million in 2013, $2.1 million in 2014, $2.5 million in 2015, and $2.6 million in 2016, for a total deficit over four years of $8.98 million.
The millage would generate over $2.2 million per year or $8.85 million over a four-year period.
“The four-year deficit does not include the potential for the loss of personal property taxes if the state were to eliminate and not replace them,” Dornan said. “That would be an additional loss of 19 percent in revenue.”
“I support it (the millage proposal) 100 percent,” Cutright said. “Four years at 3.5 mills is the best way to go and will give us a presidential election (voter turnout level) and is the best representation of the city voting for it.”
According to Dornan, out of 31 Oakland County communities studied, Wixom currently has the 10th lowest tax rate and would be ranked 15th lowest should the millage pass.
City officials intend to hold several town hall meetings to answer questions about the ballot proposal.