Brighton Council Finalizes Headlee Override Ballot Language
February 2, 2018
The Brighton City Council Thursday night finalized the language for the Headlee Amendment override that will be on the ballot on August 7th.
City voters will be asked then to approve a 4.35-mill proposal that would bring the city’s millage rate up to the 20-mill charter-approved maximum. In January, council members voted to approve the ballot language. City Manager Nate Geinzer tells WHMI the issue had to come to council again for another vote after some questions had been raised at a previous meeting and they wanted to consult with the city's attorney to finalize those issues. The motion passed on a 5-0 vote with council members Jim Bohn and Kris Tobbe absent. However, Bohn had a letter read into the record which stated he felt the public should be able to decide whether they are willing to approve the increase in taxes.
The estimated $1.85 million in revenue that would be realized the first year would go mostly toward street improvements. City officials say that Brighton’s streets are deteriorating to the point where 75% range from poor to failing. And, despite cost saving initiatives at city hall, Geinzer says the funds are not there to bring the streets up to acceptable standards. Passing a millage – even to improve city streets – will be an uphill battle. In November of 2013, Brighton residents voted down three out of four “a la carte” ballot proposals. The only one that passed was for city police services, whereas millage proposals for street, sidewalk, cemetery, and park improvements were all defeated.
If this year’s ballot proposal passes, it would cost the owner of a $200,000 home $258 more per year, compared to what was paid before the 2008 recession lowered property values. The Headlee Amendment limits the increase in property taxes to 5% a year, or the rate of inflation – whichever is lower. Thus, when property values took a nosedive in 2008 they could only rise a few per cent each year, even though the cost of running the city government was rising much faster. If the ballot issue passes it will override that limitation. However, it would not appear on city tax bills until July of 2019. (TT)