CHICAGO - Detroit-area voters this week approved a measure that would move Macomb County closer toward establishing an executive-style government, as well as a series of regional school bond proposals that will be used in part to fund security upgrades.

Macomb County voters approved 56% to 44% a charter commission proposal to draft an overhaul of the county government structure. Later this year, voters will return to the polls to select 26 members of a charter commission that will draw up plans for the overhaul.

Adjacent Wayne and Oakland counties already are led by executives, and supporters of Macomb's proposals say the move would put it on more equal footing with its neighboring counties as well as Detroit. Critics point out that an executive-style government allows the county to raise the ceiling on its property tax rate.

Meanwhile, voters in the metro Detroit area approved four general obligation unlimited tax bond proposals that total roughly $134 million, including two proposals that had failed in earlier elections.

Van Dyke Public Schools in Macomb County won passage of a $62.6 million proposal that will finance a series of security and technology upgrades, remodeled science labs, new gymnasiums, and athletic field improvements. The estimated millage that will be levied to pay debt service on the bonds the first year is equal to $2.82 per $1,000 of taxable value, or roughly $96 annually for a home with a taxable value of $40,000, according to the county Web site. The millage required to pay the bonds off over 30 years is $4.63 per $1,000 of taxable value.

Voters in Wayne County's Trenton Public School District approved the issuance of $37 million of GO unlimited-tax bonds that will also be used to fund security upgrades as well as other improvements. The estimated millage to pay debt service on the proposed 30-year bonds is $2.64 per $1,000 of taxable value.

After an earlier larger bond proposal failed last year, South Lake School District voters this time passed a $10.9 million bond proposal that does not require an increase in the school tax rate because the current levy - $0.75 per $1,000 of taxable value - is sufficient to pay off 20-year bonds.

The Oak Park School District's $24 million bond proposal also requires no increase in the school tax rate, and voters approved the measure by a vote of 65% to 35%. Proceeds from the bond sale will be used to finance the purchase of new buses, roofs, science labs, lockers rooms and a cafeteria.


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