Saline City Council inched closer to putting a property tax increase proposal on the November election ballot.
Mayor Brian Marl sought unanimity from council and he got it. Council voted 7-0 to approve the language that would give voters the ability approve a change to the city's charter.
City council wants to ask voters to approve a five-year levy of up to one mill. The tax would raise about $435,000 for roads. Marl hopes to use about $200,000 in Act 51 money, $175,000 of county road millage money and other sources to begin to upgrade the city's network of roads.
Marl said the millage will allow the city to improve its roads in a "fiscally responsible manner."
Marl asked for city residents to be objective.
"While some may not be inclined to support this, please allow the city to make its case," Marl said. "Of course, the flip side of this is that blind faith and confidence in government is never beneficial and our citizens should expect and demand we prove the need for this, and articulate in clear and compelling ways why this millage request is good for our area."
Marl said he welcomed feedback of residents.
The language changing the city charter must be approved by the office of Michigan's governor and attorney general before it's approved for the ballot.
Attorney Nick Curcio, of the city's law firm Dickinson Wright, told council letters to the state offices would sent the day after council's vote. He said the state had no obligation to approve the language in time for the November ballot, but he said he did not anticipate delays.
Council was pleased by new drafts of the ballot language because the question was more clear and concise.
"It's very important the language has been narrowed down and made very specific," Mayor Pro-Tem Linda TerHaar said. "I believe we're asking voters to approve enough to keep our roads usable without being extravagant."
Councillor Jack Ceo said he liked the proposal because it was "pay as you go."
"People paying more taxes need to reap the benefits and they'll see it reflected in the conditions of the road," Ceo said. "I certainly hope the majority of citizens recognize this and support it in the upcoming election."
According to DPW Director Jeff Fordice, the condition of Saline’s roads is slightly above state average. Using the Paser, which rates roads from 1-10, Saline’s roads rate around 4.5. About 13 miles of road were assessed at the dismal rating of 2. According to figures provided to council by Fordice, it costs about $400,000 to maintain the city’s 4.5 Paser rating over the next 10 years. Fordice told council that $900,000 in annual investment would raise the Paser rating from 4.5 to 6.5 over 10 years. To dramatically improve the roads, or to raise the Paser rating to 7.6 by 2028, the city would need to invest $1.25 million a year.