For more than a year, Brighton City Council and staff have been grappling with the worsening state of the City’s streets and the lack of funding to address the staggering infrastructure investment needed. Our streets scored a disappointing 49/100 on our latest professional pavement assessment. The street system as a whole is 75% depreciated with most residential streets in poor to failed condition.
Our street system is in this condition due in part to the lasting impacts of the 2008 recession. The City’s revenues are largely dependent on property taxes, which severely declined when City property values fell from 2008 to 2012. In addition, the State-imposed millage reduction, commonly referred to as a Headlee Rollback, has restricted the City Charter millage rate, reducing City revenues by millions each year. The financial impacts of the recession don’t stop there: another State-imposed cap limits the growth of a property’s taxable value from year to year, which means while there are no limitations to the growth of your property’s market value, the taxable value of your property cannot grow more than at 5% per year. In a normally functioning economy, these caps would not create a fiscal sustainability issue; however, in our current financial climate, the caps make it impossible for a municipality’s revenue to rebound to 2007 levels in the near term.
To come up with necessary funding, the Brighton City Council is finalizing a Headlee Override millage proposal for street improvements. The proposed Headlee Override would combat the annually calculated Headlee Rollback to restore the City Charter millage rate and generate enough funding to improve the street system.
At the January 18, Study Session, Brighton City Council reviewed ballot language for a proposed millage for the reconstruction and maintenance of City streets. Councilmembers firmly agreed that the ballot language should communicate the need for funding and limit the use of subsequent funds to streets. They also discussed public education materials that would explain to voters why the funding was being requested and exactly how it would be used. City Council and staff committed that if the Headlee Override millage was approved, all of the funding would be specifically dedicated to the reconstruction and maintenance of streets and related infrastructure and began discussing a strategy for accountability.
Brighton City Council will be addressing final ballot language for the Headlee Override millage at the Thursday, February 1 meeting at 7:30 p.m. at Brighton City Hall, which would be on the August 7, 2018 ballot.