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Hazel Park Voters Consider Staggered Terms, More Signatures and School Sinking Fund

BoysGirls_trait_01helaine-zack-candidate-ad-topHazel Park Voters Consider Staggered Terms, More Signatures and School Rust Belt Ad late FridaysSinking Fund

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Oct. 30, 2016)

Hazel Park, MI – Voters in Hazel Park face ballot proposals that will change a couple of aspects of local governance, and voters in the Hazel Park School District will be voting on a bond proposal for the Nov. 8 election.  At a recent town hall meeting officials discussed each proposal and took questions about them.

STAGGERED TERMS

Currently the City of Hazel Park is the only community in SE Oakland County that has two Go Comedy Ad grapeyear terms for council members.  And it’s the only one where the entire council and the Mayor all run for election at the same time.

Council members Mike Webber and Andy LeCureaux presented the proposal to the town hall attendees.

“The background to this is we’re trying to have some continuity in the City Council. I don’t think it’s really wise the entire City Council and Mayor could be replaced all at once. It doesn’t look good to outside entities that valuate our credit worthiness, things like that for the city. If we stagger the terms we achieve that set of continuity…. We don’t have the staggered terms, two-year terms are really unusual,” LeCrueaux said.

If passed, all four City Council members and the Mayor will run in 2017.  The Mayor will have a four year term as well as the two highest vote-getters.  The next two highest will get two year terms, with those seats being four year terms after that.buxbaum-ad

Not only does a staggered system make the city appear more stable, it helps to have sitting members pass on their institutional knowledge to new members, said County Commissioner Helaine Zack who was also in attendance.

SIGNATURES REQUIRED FOR CITIZEN PETITIONS

Another unique feature of Hazel Park’s government is that currently a citizen-led initiative requires 15% of the number of votes cast for the winning candidate for Mayor in the most recent election.  “Very few people turn out to vote,” said City Manager Ed Klobucher.  This means the threshold for signatures is easily met.

The proposal on the Nov. 8 ballot would revise the City Charter to require 5% of qualified registered voters to sign the petition.

SaharaAd_04For example, currently one needs 51 signatures to have an issue placed on the ballot.  If the new proposal passes, using current voter numbers, the requirement would be 660 signatures.

The proposal comes after a petition that would require body cameras for police.  The petition drive was led by a non-resident.  In spite of collecting the proper number of signatures, the City did not put the proposal on the ballot because they felt it was an administrative issue that could not be put to public vote.  The petitioner in that case ended up in jail on an unrelated marijuana charge and there was no further action taken in that matter.

SCHOOL SINKING FUND

Hazel Park Schools is asking for a 2 mil sinking fund millage to be used for infrastructure improvements.  School Board President Rachel Noth explained the millage and shared some UrbaneAd_04school district successes, including that enrollment is up 150 students from last year and that fall sports participation is up 17%.

City Manager Klobucher applauded the new leadership in the District and said that partnerships with the district have made areas of school property open to the public, such as the track and tennis courts at Hazel Park High School.

Official ballot language states:

This proposal, if approved by the electors, will allow the School District to levy a building and site sinking fund tax, the proceeds of which will be used to make infrastructure improvements and repairs to the School District’s facilities. Pursuant to State Law, the expenditure of the building and site sinking fund tax proceeds must be audited, and the proceeds cannot be used for teacher, administrator or employee salaries, maintenance or other operating expenses.

Shall the School District of the City of Hazel Park, County of Oakland, be authorized to levy Pledge_side_bluetwo (2) mills ($2.00 per $1,000 of taxable valuation), for a period of ten  (10) years, from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2027,  to create a building and site sinking fund to be used for the construction or repair of school  buildings or any  other purpose authorized under Michigan law? This millage would provide estimated revenues to the School District of the Cit y of Hazel Park of approximately  Five Hundred Forty Nine Thousand Six Hundred Eighty -Two ($549,682) Dollars during the 2017 calendar year, if approved and levied.

SCHOOL BOARD

Voters in Hazel Park School District will also see candidates for Hazel Park School Board. There are four people running for four open seats: Rose Mary Hammonds, Chuck Hemple, Kristy Schalk and Sue Vance-Hemple.

LIBRARY BOARD

There is some contention in the Library Board race with Julie Barton, C. Jerry Bertrand, Ed Bullock, Peter J. Pappas, Sandra Pond, Richard E. Robbins, Barbara Winter, Timothy Wright and Linda Zeiss competing for seven seats.

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