By CHARITY B. SMITH
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK — A second town hall meeting to further discuss concerns over the roads millage on the Nov. 3 ballot was held at city hall Oct. 22.
The city is asking for a 10-year, 1.9-mill increase to the general operations millage for road reconstruction, resurfacing, repairing, improvement and maintenance. The proposal seeks to restore the city’s 12.5-mill operations millage which has been reduced by the Headlee amendment.
(A mill is $1 in tax for every $1,000 of taxable value of a property. A house valued at $100,000 will experience an increase of about $95 annually for 10 years.)
The tax will generate an estimated $1.4 million in the first year.
Pavement surface evaluation rating tests showed that about 82 percent of the roads in the city are in poor condition.
“It’s to the point where the roads are going to start damaging people’s cars,” said Rob Tolliver of the Buccilli Group.
State Rep. Frank Liberati (D-13th District) told residents at the meeting not to expect anything from the state.
“It’s up to Allen Park to take care of Allen Park,” Councilman Harry Sisko said. He also said real estate agents were having problems showing houses because of the poor roads.
Matt Dohring, supervisor of the Department of Public Services, agreed, saying, “It increases our home values, when the roads are in good repair.”
Some residents wondered why the city did not choose to request a millage for only five years. The panel, which consisted of Dohring, City Administrator Mark Kibby, Finance Supervisor Robert Cady, and representatives from the Buccilli Group and C.E. Raines, explained that a five-year plan would not be sufficient to get all the repairs done in a timely manner.
Mayor Bill Matakas also spoke at the meeting, and sited Southgate and Livonia as examples. He said Livonia successfully implemented a 10-year millage in the past and is currently on an additional five-year millage and it foresees getting all its road problems solved.
Southgate, however, has done three five-year millages and the city shows no promise of completing the work with the current millage. The time it takes between millages to get another one passed is crucial, Matakas said.
A primary issue with the passing of the roads is the residents’ lack of trust in the city officials.
“It comes down to a matter of trust. Everything we do now is approved by the state,” Cady said.
“We have to be good stewards with the tax dollars,” Kibby said. “I think we have to strive to do the most amount of work with this money. We have 90 miles of road at a price tag of $35 million. Bet we have to build that trust back with the citizens.”
City council candidate Anthony Couls said this might be Allen Park’s chance to pass a millage for themselves and prove Gov. Snyder and the state wrong. Snyder said that the city could not so much as pass a millage for itself in a letter dated Sept. 12, 2012, just prior to the city having an emergency manager.
“It’s not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country,” said local businessman Anthony Seguna, of Anthony’s Hair Inc. and Sundeck Massage Therapy, in reference to the infamous words of President John Kennedy. “I remember those words and believe they apply to cities, too. It’s not what your city can do for you, but what you can do for your city.”
“Allen Park used to be called ‘The Jewel of Downriver.’ It’s time we get back to where it used to be,” Dohring said.
(Charity B. Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)