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Berkley OKs Millage Request; Will Raise $1.36 million Annually

"At the end of the day, the community spoke. Now we've got to work together," resident Marc Herron says of the Municipal Operating, Police and Fire Millage Proposal that received 69 percent approval at the polls Tuesday.

Berkley residents approved a 3-mill Headlee Override proposal Tuesday in resounding fashion, with 69 percent of voters saying yes to the request.

The Municipal Operating, Police and Fire Millage Proposal equals $3 per thousand dollars of taxable value, which the city estimates will cost the average Berkley homeowner an extra $175 each year. The millage will raise $1.362 million, beginning with 2013 summer property tax bills, to cover operating costs for the , , , parks, sanitation and other services.

Of 4,467 votes cast in Berkley, 3,062 were in favor of the request and 1,405 were opposed.

"The results tonight occurred because Democrats, Republicans, independents and Libertarians all came together to invest in the future of their hometown," Mayor Phil O'Dwyer said Tuesday at City Hall.

"They understood the financial picture that was presented was credible. They knew extensive cuts have been made. They knew that the future of the city was in their hands," he said. "They chose to vote for a strong Berkley that preserves the services they value."

City Manager Jane Bais-DiSessa said she was very happy with the outcome.

"This tells us our voters have confidence in us and we're going to work hard to not let them down," she said. "I'm so thankful to the volunteers and the citizens of Berkley."

But not everyone was happy with the election's outcome and tempers briefly flared after the results were released at .

"For my neighbors, I feel real bad. For myself, I can absorb it," resident Kurt Hite said.

"It's kind of sad," for those on limited incomes, he said.

"I wasn't against it because I was against it," Hite said. "I was against it because there was no sunset clause. To me, that says they're not looking for a temporary solution. They're looking for a home run for good."

Hite said the request went "overboard" and that he worries about the millage increase's impact on the city's ability to negotiate with its labor unions.

Despite their disagreement on the proposal, most supporters and opponents remained civil Tuesday.

Tim Gaudet, chairman of Taxpayers for Berkley's Future, a pro-millage group, said shortly before the polls closed at 8 p.m. that his interaction with a representative for the opposition outside Precinct 5 at was "cordial."

"My interaction with them here and at other precincts has been really respectful, just differing opinions," he said. "I think that's what this election is about – community.

"This is what Berkley's about," Gaudet said. "You can have people with strong, differing opinions that can still be passionate about the city and they're passionate just as I'm passionate."

Marc Herron, who served as chairman of the 15-person Citizens Advisory Committee that recommended the millage request and was the only member to vote against it, echoed that sentiment Tuesday night at City Hall.

"If the community speaks and they know the issues – you can't argue with 69 percent of the vote," he said. "At the end of the day, the community spoke. Now we've got to work together. We've all got to pull the oars."

These results are unofficial until confirmed by the Oakland County clerk.

Joshua Hunter August 08, 2012 at 02:49 PM
What do people expect now that this millage has passed? I'm genuinely curious. Are they expecting new improvements or services? Thanks.
Conny August 08, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Hooray for the 69%! I don't love paying taxes either (seriously, who does?), but I recognize it as a necessary part of living in a community -- especially when the intent is to help that community grow and thrive. (And in some instances, just survive without degrading). There will always be those who cannot afford or do not want an increase of any kind. Always. But ceasing to move forward is counterproductive and results in stagnation. Personally, I want to improve the city and make it better for every citizen and leave a legacy for future generations -- not let things go downhill. Congratulations and thank you to everyone who voted YES!
Lynn Vander Meer August 08, 2012 at 04:25 PM
I expect things not to get worse. There is not nearly enough funding to catch up on long-deferred needs, but at least we can preserve and maintain. If improvements can be made, we should all be happy. If it becomes worse, that's what elections are for. I have confidence in the city leadership and am hopeful for the future.
ken trepanier August 08, 2012 at 07:09 PM
I believe with the small turn out at this election is what allowed this millage and Headlee Override to pass. The city leaders knew this and believe this would passed as a result. The November election would have had different results. Voters need to come out in greater numbers in the primary's so the true representation is met. Shame to you voters who did not vote! You allow the few to run your government.
Leslie Ellis August 08, 2012 at 08:11 PM
FYI: Turnout in Tuesday's election was near 40 percent in Berkley, which is considered to be pretty good for a primary. http://patch.com/A-wL2V

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