Wayne County Community College District and Macomb Community College look for yes votes on millages

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Courtesy of The Detroit News

Officials at Wayne County Community College District and Macomb Community College spent Tuesday waiting to see whether voters agreed to send more money their way — money they say is needed to remain at the cutting edge of training workers.

The Wayne County Community College District was seeking a 1-mill tax increase in its operating millage. No results were available at press time.

WCCCD currently levies 2.2 mills in property taxes. The school — like all Michigan community colleges — is largely funded by property taxes and tuition, unlike the state’s public universities, which are funded by state aid and tuition.

A 1-mill tax increase would cost the owner of a home with a value of $100,000 an extra $50 a year in property taxes. The college district covers all of Wayne County except for Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Garden City, Highland Park, Livonia, Northville, Plymouth and part of Canton.

Chancellor Curtis Ivery, who has overseen key millage votes at the college in the past, said Tuesday’s vote was particularly important. WCCCD’s annual budget has shrunk by nearly $30 million over the last several years, to $125 million, as the value of property in the district has dropped, college officials said.

WCCCD has cut staff, had furloughs in previous years and, this year, capped enrollment, especially in certain areas of study.

Ivery said the money raised by the tax, about $21 million a year for the next 10 years, would help WCCCD enlarge in-demand programs. For example, the school consistently hears about needs for welders, but its program has only one welding instructor. The other key area in high demand is health care, Ivery said.

In Macomb County, a $56-million bond issue is proposed to be used to renovate buildings and technology. With 7.9% of precincts reporting, voters were defeating the measure 52.5%-47.5%.

Initially, the project would levy a 0.15-mill tax on homeowners. A 0.15-mill increase would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 an additional $7.50 per year.

The college’s current operating millage rate is 1.4 mills.

Officials said the buildings needing updates were built in the 1960s and 1970s, and that installing all the wires and technology infrastructure can require taking apart walls.

The buildings also need to be updated to meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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