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Planning 2012: City Sends Plans for Senior Millage Back to Drawing Board

The Birmingham City Commission asked for more information on a proposed senior services millage during its annual long-range planning meeting Jan. 21.

The Birmingham City Commission held its , during which commissioners heard reports from various city departments on what happened in 2011 and what's in store for Birmingham in 2012.

Birmingham Patch was there all day, but just in case you missed it, here are some of the highlights about the upcoming year in city government.

Commissioners wary about proposed senior millage

New to the long-range planning session this year was the (BASCC), which presented a proposal for a five-year senior services millage, for up to 0.5 mills, to be placed on the August 2012 primary ballot. The city would determine the final number of mills.

BASCC coordinator and Director Renee Cortwright said revenues at BASCC are down and cited a decrease in charitable contributions, fundraising revenues and grant money.

Cortwright said that if the millage passed, it would bring in an additional $900,000 in revenue for BASCC in 2013.

She said a November survey of Birmingham residents, conducted by Mitchell Research & Communications, showed that 57 percent of respondents said they would support a senior service millage.

BASCC provides a variety of outreach services for Birmingham-area seniors, and Cortwright said the center wants to expand those services, including having the center be open longer on weeknights and the weekend. And according to Cortwright, there's a need: Birmingham's senior population is expected to grow by 70 percent in the next 20 years.

However, commissioners were wary about approving a millage — and handing the senior center an automatic source of revenue — without first taking a harder look at BASCC's financial needs and considering funding alternatives. Currently, BASCC's annual budget is $288,000. Cortwright said a millage would allow that budget to grow to $913,000 a year.

"There's nothing in your presentation that tells me why you need this money," Commissioner Stuart Sherman said.

Commissioner Tom McDaniel agreed, noting that while he supports BASCC's mission and understands the group's concerns, he's not sure a millage is the answer.

"We need to talk about the best way to handle this, and I don't think a (millage) is it," he said, directing Cortwright to return to the commission at a later date with more information.

  • For more: For a full report from the long-range planning session, check out . Make sure to tell us what you think city government should focus on in 2012 by taking our poll at the end of the story.
Marcia Robovitsky January 31, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Some things to think about: in 2004 BASCC seniors with the Birmingham Schools and GBSA seniors with the Bloomfield Hills Schools served the MANY communities WITHIN their school district with senior services for about $300,000 annually. They were basically self supporting with grants, generosity of building usage by the school systems, and donations from some community governments. In an August 2004 "stealth" election, Bloomfield Township ONLY taxpayers, had a 0.24 mills on a ballot for senior services. The amount of money to be generated was over $800,000. It passed although NO official notification that it was on the ballot was given to the township residents. Eventually, GBSA became a township senior services department and a new building was erected.....all on Township ONLY tax dollars. $$$ to personnel costs. If I am assuming correctly, that BASCC serves the many communities of Birmingham schools.... you will have the same situation: ONLY Birmingham taxpayers are being asked for millage money. Will the other seniors from the other communities be cut out? Idea: The township millage for the senior center expires in 2013. It would be the perfect timing for REAL community sharing of that building and an adjusted program to accommodate all the seniors in the Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills SCHOOL DISTRICTS. Have the funding for that senior program be paid for by SCHOOL funding dedicated dollars. Take the same thought process to funding and sharing both libraries.

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