Council splits on millage vote as deadline nears

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – The city may be one step closer to an emergency financial manager after a resolution for a May 8 millage was struck down Tuesday.

Councilors were deadlocked 3-3 on a proposal to place a 4-mill, two-year levy on the May 8 ballot and must vote again at Tuesday’s meeting. Councilman Larry Templin was absent while recovering from surgery.

Councilors Bob Keenan, Dennis Hayes and Angelo DeGiulio dissented on the measure, arguing that the levy, to offset the $2.6 million subsidy to the failed 104-acre movie studio property, would be useless in closing next year’s projected $4 million budget shortfall unless fire and police unions make concessions.

Councilors voted that night to send a letter asking for the unions to pay 20 percent of their healthcare costs and agree to a 10 percent reduction of their base wages. The Michigan Department of Treasury has given the city a May deadline for a plan to close that deficit.

“I think we’re putting the cart before the horse here,” Keenan said. “I think we need to have police and fire step up to the plate.”

Keenan also read status updates posted on the Fire Department’s Facebook page thanking voters who voted in favor of a public safety millage that passed in November. A millage proposal to fund the studio property subsidy failed in November.

“The politicians will now have to look at other alternatives to balance the budget or they will be guilty of not honoring the will of the citizens,” the update said.

“The $2.8 million you voted for in November does not cover the $10-plus million it takes to run that police and fire department,” Keenan said. “If that’s their attitude, if they are not willing to step up to the plate, I’m not willing to put a millage on the ballot.”

The ballot language must be approved by the Wayne County Clerk by Feb. 28 to be included on the May ballot.