The three ballot proposals listed here will be on the November 6, 2018 ballot

Chamber Supports Ballot Proposals for Schoolcraft College and the Plymouth Arts and Recreation Complex (PARC)

For many years the Chamber has believed that our high quality of life and outstanding education offered are key elements of the Plymouth Community. The Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has chosen to take two new public policy positions that reflect those values. There were presentations about the ballot proposals at Board meetings about the Schoolcraft College millage of an additional .48 mills and the Plymouth Arts and Recreation Complex (PARC) millage for .75 mills.  The Board of Directors voted to have the Chamber support both proposals that will appear on the November ballot.

Schoolcraft is our local resource for affordable post-secondary education. They give college students a needed excellent affordable education on their way to four-year degrees and provide certification in many of the needed skilled trades where there are severe shortages of workers. Schoolcraft is a well-run institution that is among the top community colleges in the state that does an excellent job of managing their resources, while keeping their tuition affordable. Unlike most community colleges, they have not had any millage increase in 20 years.

Over the years, Schoolcraft has seen their state funding decrease due to cutbacks and the effects of Proposal A.  At this point, they need the additional millage revenue to bring their funding level back up to what has been lost. Without those funds, the school has no choice but to cut back or not expand many programs that produce needed workers for local employers and/or significantly raise tuition.

PARC is the project to renovate old Central Middle School on Main Street into a recreation and arts complex. Since the School closed it has run as PARC through donations and rental fees. The .75 millage for 20 years will provide $30 million to renovate the building that is rented by non-profit arts and recreation groups to provide swim lessons, arts, theater, sports and much more to the community. In addition, the project will build an 800 seat Performing Arts Center to be used by local groups, national acts on tour, dance schools and other performing artists. We do not believe those funds can be raised through private donations alone, although  approximately $7 million has been pledged or donated to the project already.

After evaluating the feasibility studies, financial track record of the facility and market demand, the Board felt PARC presented a business plan that will be successful. The theater, with its market demand, is needed to balance the business model to make the project financially viable. The rental portion of the project (within the existing building) is not sustainable by itself without continued financial contributions. The third-party experts (Anderson Economic Group and Stout Risius) that provided independent analysis of the business plan and provided a market evaluation believe the model proposed is financially sustainable into the future.

Most importantly, the Board also believes that the proposed plan for this development does create a next step in the quality of life offered in the Plymouth Community. This development has an opportunity to take our quality of life to the next level with greatly enhanced arts and recreation offerings that will also spur more development around the project site. Since our outstanding quality of life is a primary driver that attracts residents, visitors, businesses and employees, we believe making this investment will be a catalyst to the future success of the Plymouth Community.  

The Schoolcraft and PARC millage proposals are in line with what we believe are the essential pillars of high quality of life and outstanding educational opportunities that make our community an attractive place for businesses and residents.

For the Chamber to take a public policy position we must have at least a 75% agreement among the Board members voting on the proposal. Issues are discussed at Board meetings, research is provided, and guests are invited to present information as part of the process to decide a Chamber public policy position.   

Chamber Supports the Plymouth Twp Public Safety Millage

If the proposed 1.2 mill public safety millage is approved by voters in November, Plymouth Township will still have the far lowest millage rate of our surrounding Western Wayne County communities. Our rate will be approximately 3.4 mills less than the Northville Township that has the next lowest millage tax rate compared to us.

It’s time to pay the bills in Plymouth Township that have been put off too long. With a 64% funded pension plan and no money put away for other post-employment benefits, like healthcare obligations, the Township will eliminate the available general fund balance in five years, if they have no pay increases or new equipment. That is not a sustainable path going forward, even if cuts were made.

The other issue the Township has is the age of the equipment presently being used. For example, our firetrucks date back to 1989, 1992 and 2000 models. Even with one new firetruck being brought on board, that still leaves the department with models that predate most other trucks in surrounding communities. For example, the oldest truck in the City’s fleet is 2010. Coupling that with other aging equipment and basic upkeep, we deserve better for our first responder’s safety and the safety of our residents and businesses.

Due to the decrease in property values in the last recession and Michigan’s law of not increasing property taxes by more than 5% or the rate of inflation, depending on which is lower, the Township’s tax revenue collection is at 2005 levels. They have run a tight ship financially for many years, but at some point the bills come due and cannot be put off any longer. This millage will cost approximately $180 a year on property assessed at $300,000.

Aside from being the right thing to do to pay our retired fire and police officers what is promised, public safety is a basic component of our quality of life. It is not something you can underfund or understaff hoping nothing will happen. Public safety is about preparedness. You hope you will never need it, but when the time comes you expect high quality immediate response.

In the near future, if the Township is flirting with financial disaster due to unfunded legacy costs and a less than prepared police and fire department due as a result of inadequate equipment, we will be chasing away businesses and others will not consider locating here. The State of Michigan will also be stepping in expecting a community with our resources pay the bills. We are a community with the means to pay these bills to maintain our high quality of life and yet still have an attractive local tax rate that attracts business and residents.  

The Plymouth Community Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors voted unanimously to support the 1.2 mills Plymouth Township Public Safety Millage that will appear on the November ballot. We encourage our members to study the issue and support keeping this a safe community with a fiscally sound future.