Farmington Hills asks voters to fund subdivision road repairs

Posted at 6:09 PM, Oct 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-24 18:09:30-04

Right now Farmington Hills says it has about 50 miles of road in extremely poor condition.

The problem? Money.

The city is hoping voters will step up to help them take action to start fixing some of the problem subdivision roads.

In the past Farmington Hills has done what many communities do as they work to manage subdivision roads. They waited until the roads got so bad that they absolutely had to be fixed.  

It had to become an emergency to move people in subdivisions to accept special assessments on their properties to fix their subdivision’s roads.  

Cindy and Chris Bixby say on East Lyman Street in the Old Homestead Subdivision near Drake and Twelve Mile the way of taking care of roads has left them suffering.  

“We actually asked them to take it to dirt because we thought it would be better than the road is,” said Cindy.

“We are watching our granddaughter now. We can’t take the stroller out here,” said Chris.

They say they have asked the city to fix it.  

At first city leaders could not because neighbors refused to vote for a special assessment of about $15 thousand per house to pay for it. 

People wanted the road fixed, but too many neighbors said they couldn’t afford it

“It is mostly old people,” said Chris Bixby of his subdivision. “It is not going to happen.”

In similar circumstances, Farmington Hills has, at times, forced communities to make repairs. It leads to emotional and anger-filled public meetings.  

The city says the millage on the ballot next month is another option.  It would raise about $9.2 million in the first year allowing the city to get rid of special assessments for subdivision road repairs.  

Some residents would get refunds if they prepaid assessments.  

The city has heard from some residents who are concerned about higher taxes.  

Assistant City Manager Gary Mekjian says voters have to decide whether the cost is worth higher property values.  Assessments drive down overall values as homes listed for sale are compared to homes with assessments.  

Plus there is expected to be overall cost savings that could come with road maintenance planning.

“The city can inject the appropriate fix at the appropriate time and life cycle schedule,” said Mekjian.  “That is a different philosophy than what we have today which is build it, essentially let it rot in the ground, then rebuild it 25 years later.”

The millage would cost homeowners about $275 per $100,000 of taxable value.

The ballot question is as follows:

Shall the city charter be amended to authorize the annual levy of an additional special tax rate of up to 2.75 mills ($2.75 per $1,000 taxable value), starting with the July, 2019 levy and raising approximately $9,272,000 in the first year, for improving, rehabilitating, repairing, and maintenance of local subdivision road infrastructure, and partly funding debt retirement and special assessment refunds, and eliminate limits on City payments toward local road special assessments, and amend unexpired special assessment rolls to zero-out unpaid balances and provide refunds for properties that have paid-off the special assessment as of November 6, 2018?