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E-M:/ Ann Arbor News coverage of Parkland Proposal

Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org

Voters approve parks millage 

Wednesday, November 3, 1999

Time after time, Ann Arbor residents have shown how much they love their 
city's parks.

They did so again Tuesday.

By nearly a 2-to-1 margin, voters overwhelmingly approved a park-acquisition 
levy that will add a 0.5-mill property tax to the city's overall millage rate 
for the next five years.

The new levy will cost the owner of a $162,000 home an extra $41 in property 
taxes next year. It is expected to generate enough money - $8 million - to 
allow the city to expand its nearly 2,000-acre system by at least 200 acres. 
The new green space should help counteract Ann Arbor's rapid growth, 
supporters say.

"Ann Arbor's citizens are looking at sprawl in the future and they don't like 
what they see," said Doug Cowherd, one of the organizers of a summer petition 
drive that placed the tax on general-election ballot. "They want more open 
space and park land. And they are willing to tax themselves to do it."

With Tuesday's election attracting 10,501 voters, the lowest turnout in 19 
years, the tax won 6,761 votes, or 64.8 percent, according to unofficial 

The result was somewhat expected. People for Parks, the ad-hoc group of 
environmentalists organizing the last-minute ballot drive, collected about 
the same number of signatures as "yes" votes cast Tuesday. 

Other than the 1997 rejection of the proposed Leslie Science Center 
expansion, Ann Arbor voters haven't voted against a park-related millage in 
more than 40 years. 

With the latest tax, property owners will be paying more than 1.4 mills a 
year to support the city's park system. Two existing millages, each set at 
0.4725 mill, fund the development and rehabilitation of existing parks and 
pay for the maintenance and repair of park facilities. It is believed to be 
the first time in the city's history that three park-related millages will be 
in effect.

Republican City Council Member Joe Upton said the ballot referendum should 
never have occurred. Instead, he said, the City Council should have explored 
whether it could take money out of the city's surplus to buy more parks.

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