By TEREASA NIMS
Sunday Times Newspapers
RIVERVIEW — City officials say that if voters approve the May 6 street and sewer bond proposal, they won’t pay any more taxes than they are paying now.
But not all residents are convinced.
“If they vote for this, it will not cost them anything,” Mayor Tim Durand said. “We have a lot of debt coming off the books.
“Really, it’s an even Steven,” he added, referring to the 3-mill proposal to raise $8 million during the course of the next 11 years.
City Manager Doug Drysdale said the city is asking voters to allow the city to borrow $8 million, payable over 11 years to be used to install, improve, replace and reconstruct streets and water mains in the city, including necessary rights-of-way and secondary roads.
The estimated millage to be levied in 2015 is 0.97 mills (97 cents per $1,000 of taxable value) and the estimated simple average annual millage rate required to retire the bonds is 2.73 mills ($2.73 per $1,000 of taxable value).
Resident Bill Towle, said he doesn?t dispute the effort, just what he called “the propaganda the city is flaunting to get there.”
“I support this,” Towle said of the improvements. “It is needed.”
Towle takes issue with what he calls the “oversight the city is spinning.” Towle attended the April 21, City Council meeting, armed with printouts of the city’s proposed budget, to call out city officials.
Towle, a resident who avidly attends council meetings, said the city wants to put 3 mills on, but isn’t truly taking 3 mills off, like officials say.
“It’s true. Some of the debt is coming off, but not enough to be a wash,” Towle said.
Drysdale, however, assures voters that should the proposal pass, it nearly is a wash.
“There were judgment levy debts for the Wyandotte Treatment Plant in the early 1990s that have now been paid off,” Drysdale said. “Once paid off, we can no longer collect.”
He explained that not all judgment levies come from taxes. For example, the city used rents from cell towers, the sale of methane from the landfill and taxes on water bills to help pay the owed debt.
“Basically, we are taking 3 mills off and putting 3 mills on, if the bond passes,” Drysdale said.
He said there might be a “slight increase” in one of the first two years of approximately a 0.1 mill difference from what already is being collected.
Again, if voters pass the bond, a 1 mill collection would begin in July 2016, yet improvements would come next spring or summer. Still, Drysdale said voters would only see a rise of an approximate 0.1 mill in their taxes.
“Our roads have taken a beating,” Drysdale said.