By DANIEL HERATY
HEIGHTS – Residents and city employees packed City Council chambers Aug. 23 as councilors voted 6-1 to approve a November ballot proposal that would override the Headlee Amendment to the state Constitution and allow for a 3 mill tax increase, helping to eliminate a $842,000 general fund deficit.
Councilwoman Margaret Van Houten voted against the measure.
The measure would raise an additional $3.4 million for the general fund by increasing millage rates for general fund operations, sanitation and the Police and Fire departments.
The amendment, approved in 1978, limits revenue collected in each fiscal year, prohibits reduction of state-funded programs and prevents lowering state spending for local governments below levels set in fiscal year 1978-79.
Mayor Daniel Paletko said the move is one of the most important decisions the council needs to make. He said he is willing to devote as much time as necessary to find a solution to the budget deficit.
“All of us have a stake in this,” he said. “I really believe the city’s at risk. All the (city) employees … we need each and every one of you to assist and help. You have the biggest stake in this. It’s your employment.”
Counciwoman Marge Horvath said meetings between the councilors and the mayor are needed soon to generate solutions to the budget deficit.
“If this goes down to defeat … we’re going to lock the doors,” she said.
Councilwoman Janet Badalow said more input from the residents is needed.
“We do all need to work together,” she said. “This is where I live, we all live here, and I don’t want to see it go by the wayside or become out of our control. We do represent you (residents), but we need to hear more from you about what you want to do.”
Van Houten questioned the timing of the proposal, which was presented to the council the week of Aug. 15. She said there has been no planning for what the millage would pay for or would happen if the ballot doesn’t pass.
Reactions from residents and city employees and choose the students. Public schools can’t do that.”
U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-Dearborn) offered his support for Dingell in a statement via email.
“Everyone in Michigan should be delighted to have Robert McLachlan support public school education in Southeast Michigan on the MASB Board of Directors, particularly at this difficult time, of tight education budgets,” Dingell said. “I appreciate his advocacy to protect public funding of education and I am confident that he will [be] a strong and honorable representative for Southeast Michigan.”
McLachlan has been married for 23 years to his wife, Theresa. The couple has two adult children.
(Daniel Heraty can be reached at [email protected].)