On November 7, 2023, Birmingham residents will vote on a proposed senior millage. The following Q&A provides information to educate the community about the proposed millage and language residents will see on their ballot.
Senior Population in Birmingham and Surrounding Communities
Michigan is aging, and the Birmingham area is no exception. Birmingham, Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms and Franklin households with seniors are expected to increase by more than 50% by 2045, with a significant percentage of 65+ residents living alone.
City of Birmingham Purchases Birmingham YMCA Building
On June 5, 2023, the Birmingham City Commission approved the purchase of the YMCA building and land located at 400 East Lincoln Street in Birmingham. On July 26, 2023, the City closed on the property. The YMCA had planned to sell the building, creating a unique opportunity for Birmingham, the surrounding communities and NEXT. The facility is planned for use as a senior/recreation center, including a permanent home for NEXT, which will occupy approximately 75% or more of the building after a three year period. The YMCA will continue to provide services and occupy the building for the next three years, and then will continue to occupy approximately 25% of the building after NEXT moves in.
What is NEXT?
The City of Birmingham is home to NEXT, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which has been serving the community for over 40 years, offering support services that focus on allowing older adults to live independently. NEXT provides information, referrals, classes and activities for all individuals 50 years of age and older residing in the City of Birmingham and its neighboring communities. They also provide services such as transportation and access directed towards the improvement of social, legal, health, housing, educational, emotional, nutritional, recreational and mobility status of persons over 50 years of age.
Where is NEXT currently housed and why do they need a new location?
NEXT has been utilizing space at Midvale School, which has been provided by the Birmingham Public Schools (BPS). A challenge has been that BPS has been unable to provide a comprehensive lease or assurance for what the future will hold for NEXT. Over the past several years, membership at NEXT has increased over 70% and program participation has expanded to more than 268% with 1,500 weekly visits to the center. With over 2,000 members, NEXT is close to full capacity and unable to offer additional programs and services.
Why is the city proposing a senior millage?
On November 7, 2023, Birmingham residents will vote on a proposed senior millage. A .33 mill levy for a three-year term would enable the city to make interim improvements to the YMCA building and to establish a sinking fund to contribute toward the cost of permanent improvements to the building for use as a senior center/recreation center in the future. Michigan law permits a local unit of government to submit a millage proposition to the electorate to levy up to 1 mill for services to older citizens.
What language will I see on the November 7, 2023 ballot?
Do you approve of the addition of a new 0.33 mill levy to collect approximately $1,053,750 in revenue per year to be disbursed to the City of Birmingham for the purpose of making interim improvements and establishing a sinking fund for a senior center that will provide an array of services for older citizens for a three year term, ending on July 1, 2027?
How and when will this affect my taxes?
While the proposed senior millage would add .33 mills to the tax bill, it will be partially offset by a decrease in the debt millage as a result of a bond issue that is maturing. The net effect is likely to be an increase in the total millage rate of around .08 mills instead of the full .33 mills, resulting in approximately $23 in additional taxes per year for the average Birmingham homeowner. If approved, this levy would be placed on tax bills effective July 1, 2024.
Will the proposed senior millage provide complete funding for the renovation or expansion of the existing YMCA building?
No. The proposed senior millage will provide funding for interim improvements to the building and property, as well as establish a sinking fund to assist with the cost of permanent improvements to the property. The City anticipates a general obligation bond issue will be considered after the millage expires to fund a portion of permanent improvements to the building. The City will continue to work cooperatively with other member communities.
Does developing a plan for a permanent senior/community center to house NEXT senior services align with the City’s strategic plan?
Yes. Following an extensive public input process, the City Commission adopted strategic goals in November of 2022. Supporting an engaged and connected community by offering City services and amenities that enrich the lives of residents of all ages is a main goal. This strategic goal includes a recommendation to “create a task force to facilitate an aging in place plan, develop a plan for a permanent senior/community center to house NEXT senior services, and a continuation of YMCA services, to offer space for multigenerational programs, and engage with youth in the community with a teen board or committee”. Learn more about the task force and attend upcoming meetings to share your feedback regarding an aging in place plan at www.bhamgov.org/aginginplace.