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During the recession, the City lost over 35% of our taxable value and as a result our tax revenue. Although the economy is better the City finances have not improved.
61.5% of the City's revenue is property taxes paid by residents and businesses throughout the City. During the recession the City lost over 35% in taxable value which equaled a direct reduction in general tax dollars generated. When business and residential property values started dropping in 2008 the City taxable value dropped by the same amount. The City does have an excellent financial forecasting process and we addressed this situation through proactively cutting out expenses (personnel, programs and capital outlay) to keep the City financially stable.
When the economy started to recover, the City's taxable value was only allowed to grow the amount of inflation regardless of how much property values increased. So, in a year the City's values increase more than inflation, we are forced to "roll-back" or reduce our tax millage. This has caused the City to struggle to recover. Due to the recession and the cap on the millage the City will not return to 2006 levels until at least 2038. That is assuming there aren't any more economic downturns before 2038 which is unrealistic. This also does not provide for actual inflation as we will be expected to do business in 2038 on 2006 revenues.
Madison Heights has a very proactive financial forecasting process that allowed us to reduce costs before the effect of the recession hit our revenue stream. 200+ gap measures were implemented during this period (see list below). The majority of these reductions remain in place, with the exception of the restoration of the Police Special Investigations Unit and the trial period for Sunday hours at the Library (coming this September).
* Eliminated 47 full-time positions, in addition to the 31 full-time positions eliminated since 1997 across all departments in the City.
* Labor Negotiations included furlough days, wages reductions, elimination and reduction of pension benefits, retiree health care, insurance benefits and leave time.
* Contracted out entire departments and services including: assessing department, information technology department, housing department, operation of the Nature Center, and reduction and contracting of city-wide mowing, building inspections, sidewalk replacement and inspection.
* Reduced custodial services and most pest control, closed City offices at lunch, and eliminated all full-time positions in the recreation department.
* Postponed all vehicle and equipment replacement until significantly past service life. This has decreased reliability of critical pieces of equipment.
* Reduced library material and programing budgets.
* Deferred park maintenance including trail rehabilitation and park equipment replacement.
* Eliminated annual city-wide calendar and new resident packet and reduced the frequency of the city-wide newsletter.
* Eliminated city funding of special events including coffee concerts, memorial day parade, and festival in the park.
* Closed the Skate Park due to required maintenance.
* Discontinued annual animal clinic
These are a few examples of the 200+ gap measures implemented City-wide to reduce expenses.
Since 2009, calls for service for public safety and emergency medical services have increased 41.9%. During this same period staff has decreased 16%. We are not seeking to return to pre-recession levels. We are only seeking to staff the departments adequately enough to be able to respond efficiently to emergency calls within the City.
Proposal MH will immediately improve emergency services by adding three firefighters, two police officers and one emergency dispatcher to staff. The addition of three new firefighters will go to increasing the average daily staffing level, which will decrease the frequency that the fire engine or the ambulance at Fire Station 2 is left unstaffed. The unstaffed vehicles at Fire Station 2 occur when the daily staffing level falls below eight firefighters. In 2018, the average daily staffing level was 6.5 firefighters per day. Also, the staffing of all the frontline vehicles will improve our emergency response times throughout the City. This will also allow us to address deferred capital assets such as equipment, vehicles and buildings which we have not been able to properly maintain due to lack of funding.
In order to compare millage rates we need to compare all the items included in the millage. Madison Heights' millage includes many services other cities do not. Therefore, in order to compare you need to add these additional services to other cities millages.
1. Madison Heights includes solid waste services (trash, compost and recycling) in the millage. The majority of other Cities do not, requiring instead that residents pay this bill separately. This costs other cities approximately $45 every two months or $270 annually. Solid Waste is 2.25 mills of the total Madison Heights millage.
2. Madison Heights includes Chapter 20 Drain debt in the millage. Many other Cities do not, including this instead in the Water and Sewer rate billed to residents.
3. Madison Heights provides full service emergency medical services through our Firefighters/AMET. Many other communities run volunteer fire departments with private ambulance service.
After determining that no other expenses could be eliminated without drastically changing services, City Council directed staff to develop a millage proposal that would provide long-term stability to the City and increase public services and quality of life.
Staff looked at all millages currently levied, and found the Library millage and millage restoration millages were expiring next year. In order to combine these millages into a public safety millage and ask the voters to consider just one millage increase, staff developed Proposal MH. Proposal MH replaces the library millage, millage restoration millage and combines two other millages for vehicles and advanced life support. It also provides funding for increased public safety including personnel and equipment and quality of life services as determined through resident input.
The net increase is only 3.3867 mills. This is confusing because the ballot language actually reads "increase the charter millage from 10 to 16 mills". This is not a 6 mill increase. The net increase is only 3.3687 due to the combination of current millages and the headlee amendment. The 3.3687 is calculated: 2.5 mills for increased public safety, 2.93 mills stabilizing funding for general operations and library services 2.93 mills (the library and millage restoration millages are expiring and two other millages will be rolled in and no longer separately levied) and 0.57 mills for quality of life amenities to be determined through the resident input of the master planning process.
If the millage proposal passes, the millage would be effective on the July 2020 summer tax bill. Increased public safety staffing and infrastructure maintenance and equipment purchases for public safety would be included in the FY 2020-21 budget. We would start the recruitment process for six new public safety positions (3 firefighters, 2 patrol officers, 1 dispatch) shortly after the millage passes, in early January 2020. Enhanced recreation and development projects and special events would be included as decided by City Council and can vary by year based on the needs and desires of the community through the budget process.
On average the cost for Proposal MH will be around 35 cents per day.
We have created an interactive calculator to help you determine and estimate of what Proposal MH will cost you on an annual basis, if fully levied. Click here and enter your TAXABLE VALUE not market value.
Verify your voter registration and polling location at:
Now through October 28, 2019: register to vote by mail, at the Secretary of State Office, or at your City Clerk's office in City Hall.
October 28 until 8:00 p.m. on November 5, 2019: in order to be registered for the November 5, 2019 Election, you will need to visit the City Clerk's office in City Hall. Identification and proof of residency is required. If you cannot establish residency during this time frame, you will be ineligible to vote in Madison Heights in the November 5, 2019 election. The following items are valid for establishing identification and residency:
Driver's License (any state)
State Personal ID (any state)
Federal or State Issued ID
Residency - must include applicant's name and current address:
Any of the above with current address
Current utility bill
other government document
Any registrations made at the Secretary of State after October 28, 2019 will not be effective until after November 5, 2019.
Find out the status of your absentee ballot here: