By DANIEL HERATY
DEARBORN – A temporary millage increase and a proposal to eliminate the Civil Service System will be on the Nov. 8 ballot.
City councilors approved the revised ballot language during their regular meeting Aug. 8 that would allow voters to decide the two issues in the general election.
The millage increase would generate an additional $12.25 million that will go directly into the city’s general fund in an attempt to avoid a $20 million budget shortfall. The city already has made cuts to full-time staffing and benefits, saving about $12 million per year.
The increase comes in response to declining property values, down almost a third from 1995. The millage increase is seen by city officials as a temporary means to solving the city’s financial problems.
The millage will come with a sunset clause, meaning city officials can eliminate it at any time during a five-year period, from July 1, 2012 to July 1, 2017.
It would be similar to a Save Our Services millage passed in 1986.
“It was a lot like today,” said Chief of Staff Mark Guido, who was at the time an executive assistant to then-Mayor Michael Guido. “We were coming out of a recession and money was tight. There were immediate needs to be addressed and it allowed us to do that.”
Eliminating the Civil Service System, established to handle employment issues such as employee evaluations, promotions and demotions prior to establishing unions to protect city employees during contract negotiations, is a step toward streamlining the government, City Attorney Debra Walling said. The system would be replaced by a Human Resources Commission, effectively merging the two departments.
“Right now, the Civil Service Commission is managed by the Human Resources Commission,” Walling said. “If it’s eliminated it would remove some of their job responsibilities.”
Walling said the system has been in the charter since the 1930s or ’40s and voters elected a Charter Commission when they approved rewriting the charter in 2005.
“One of the issues was the need for civil service, but it was felt too drastic to eliminate at the time.”
The language was approved by the State Attorney General’s office Aug. 10.
(Daniel Heraty can be reached at [email protected].)