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Commission seeking long-term fiscal stability as it reviews 2-year budget

Dear Resident:

Wayne County has taken some major steps over the past few months to ensure its financial stability and to continue to provide quality recreation programs for its residents and I would like to update you on the progress that has been made.

The Wayne County Commission is working hard with the county executive's office to adopt a comprehensive two-year budget that will continue the progress of the past fiscal year and strengthen the foundation for our county's long-term fiscal stability. Tough questions have and will be asked and tough decisions will be made but we remain committed to finding innovative ways to stretch tax dollars to improve the quality of life for all Wayne County residents while once again making our county financially stable.

The proposed budget covers the fiscal years 2016-17 and 2017-18 and will total $1.5 billion for each year. In addition to continuing to emphasize fiscal stability, the budget also focuses on investing in public safety and technology.

Improvements to records-tracking software are among the technology upgrades being considered. These improvements should help residents more easily access vital records related to their own major life events.

The two-year budget also includes revenue from the Wayne County Parks Millage overwhelmingly approved by voters in August. The millage is expected to generate $9.9 million a year to fund and improve county parks. In addition, 15% of the revenue generated by District 5 taxpayers will be returned locally to improve parks in our neighborhoods. Wayne County voters approved the millage renewal by a nearly 3-1 margin in a strong show of support for county and local parks.

Wayne County's next fiscal year begins Oct. 1 and I am confident the two-year budget will be in place, showing once again what can be accomplished when county government works together.

Irma Clark-Coleman, Wayne County Commission

Straight-party ticket voting is allowed

The straight-party ticket voting will continue in Michigan during the Nov. 8 Presidential Election despite efforts earlier this year by the state legislature, Gov. Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to end the practice.

Straight ticket voting allows voters to cast their ballots for all of a preferred party's candidates by casting a single vote alongside that party's name at the top of their ballot - be it Democrat, Republican or any other party.

Wayne County Commissioner Irma Clark-Coleman praised the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling which preserved straight ticket voting for Michigan residents.

"Straight ticket voting for years has sped up the voting process for many people while preventing others from standing in long lines outside polling places, often in bad weather, waiting to cast their votes," ClarkColeman said. "In such a critical election, it is important to make sure no one is discouraged from voting."

With many other issues on the Nov. 8 ballot, ClarkColeman also reminds voters that straight ticket voting only affect partisan races, such as President, Congress State Legislature, university boards and County elected officials.

Even if they vote straight-ticket, voters can still cast individual votes for candidates in non-partisan races. They include races involving judges and local school boards, where candidates run without being affiliated with a political party.

Voters can view all the candidates and issues on the Nov. 8 ballot by visiting the Wayne County Clerk's website at http://www.waynecounty.com/clerk/.

County resolution urges repeal of state fireworks law

A resolution calling for the repeal of the state law that allows the widespread sale and use of commercialgrade fireworks was unanimously approved by the full Commission on July 21.

Commissioners stressed that complaints from residents have increased each year since the state eased restrictions on fireworks, starting in 2012.

"Unfortunately, Lansing has not been listening to individuals who are most affected by changes in the law," Commissioner Irma Clark-Coleman said. "When the change was made I doubt anyone realized the affect it would have on our neighborhoods. Numerous residents have voiced concern over the dangers posed by the sale of these types of fireworks."

The Legislature approved the Fireworks Safety Act in 2011, which legalized the sale, distribution and use of a wide variety of commercial-grade aerial fireworks that were previously prohibited in Michigan. It was approved by wide margins in both the House and Senate, with the argument that it would bring tax revenue into Michigan.

The resolution urges support for bills to repeal the fireworks laws that have been introduced in the Legislature by Sen. David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights and Rep. Henry Yanez, D-Sterling Heights.

Copies of the resolution will be sent to state representatives and senators as well as Governor Rick Snyder.

Voters approve decisively renewal of county parks millage

Voters in Wayne County have approved the continuation of the county parks millage, a property tax dedicated to improving and operating several parks and related facilities.

The tax was on the primary election ballot Aug. 2, and was approved by nearly a 3-to-1 margin, with 129,692 votes in favor of the renewal and 47,010 against.

The parks millage was authorized by county voters in 1996, then was renewed for five-year periods in 2000, 2005 and 2010. The proposal approved by voters Aug. 2 continues the millage through 2020. It is expected to generate $9.9 million next year. The parks levy is just under one-quarter of a mill and appears on winter tax bills.

In very approximate terms, the tax costs $12.30 per year on a home that is worth $100,000.

County selling tax-foreclosed properties in online auction

Thousands of tax-foreclosed properties are being sold in an online property auction conducted by the Wayne County Treasurer's Office.

More than 14,000 residential, commercial and vacant parcels were put up for sale this month during the first phase of the auction. The deadline for registering to participate this month has passed, but potential buyers still have an opportunity to pick up remaining properties during the October portion of the auction, when bidding will start at $500.

Buyers must be registered to bid. Registration for the October auction will take place Oct. 11-17. Property information will be posted online.

Interested persons can register or get more information online, including rules and regulations, at waynecountytreasurermi.com. Questions can be emailed to: WCTauction@waynecounty.com. Questions also can be directed to (313) 224-2864.

The Treasurer's Office provides assistance to help taxpayers remain in their home, but if property taxes go unpaid for three years, the Treasurer is required by state law to foreclose and then sell the property by auction. Bidding on property requires a $2,500 deposit.

According to information released by Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree, properties sold in the tax foreclosure auction are sold "as is" and "where is" with no warranties, either expressed or implied.

Prior to the auction, purchasers are advised to research the property's condition and to perform careful due diligence to understand any potential issues with the property, including special assessments, environmental issues or demolition status.

The Treasurer pointed out that the number of properties being auctioned this year is dramatically fewer than in the past few years.