Thursday, November 10, 2022

Wayne voters choose council, reject tax proposal

Voters in the City of Wayne selected Eric Cleereman to serve as the new city councilman  from Ward Five and Mathew Mulholland to serve as the council member from Ward Six on Tuesday.

Cleereman received a total of 2,347 or 60 percent of the votes cast. He defeated Rabih Darwiche who was the choice of 1,550 voters. Both were first-time candidates.

Unopposed Wayne City Councilwoman Deborah Wass will serve a two-year term as the representative from Ward Four in the city. Wass, who was appointed to the seat last year, has previously served on the city planning commission and board of review.

Mulholland, the former personnel director in the city, narrowly defeated incumbent Phillip Wagner for the Ward Six seat. Only 25 votes separated the two candidates. Mulholland received 2,085 votes or 50 percent of the total votes cast while Wagner received a total of 2,062 votes, also reported as 50 percent. Wagner had served on the council since 2018.

Cleereman was the choice of 2,347 voters while Darwiche received 1,550 of the votes cast for the council seat in Ward Five. Cleereman works in project management and serves on the city parks and trails committee. 

In addition to choosing three city council members, Wayne voters rejected a new 8-mill tax hike on the ballot Tuesday. Voters cast 2,969 no votes on the proposal and 2,359 votes in favor of the millage which was promoted by city officials as a means to help fund the pension obligations of the city toward retired public safety employees. The new tax, which is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed valuation, usually half the market value of a home, would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home in the city about $400 annually. 

The request contained ballot language permitting the city to withdraw fire and police employees from the current MERS system.

The city is currently levying the maximum tax amount allowed by state law and must have voter approval to increase taxes any further. Voters rejected requests for increased millages from the city twice in past elections. 

City officials have stated that the pension obligations are too steep for the current tax revenue collected. They claim that nearly 40 percent of the city budget is paid into the pension fund. Officials claim that the city will owe another $16 million into the pension fund within the next two years and does not have a revenue base to make those payments.