Special Meeting for Benton Harbor's millage renewal - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Special Meeting for Benton Harbor's millage renewal

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Benton Harbor leaders are hoping the second time is the charm.

Residents will be voting on a couple of proposals next week.

The city says they really need them to pass to stay afloat.

Mayor James Hightower hosted the last of three special meetings Monday to inform voters about ballot.

Only about a dozen came out for the last meeting, but Hightower says attendance was much better at the first two.

The only people to turn out Monday were those who say they'll vote yes.

"We know the great importance that this has on our city. Not only for the present, but also for the future," says Benton Harbor resident Nathaniel Wells.

"We need safety in our city. We need better streets, better roads, a lot of services that we need, that we cannot get without this millage," says Kenneth Gavin of Benton Harbor.
    
Last November, voters turned down a proposal to restore 10 mills for the general operating budget.

They'll have another shot, May 7th. Along with a measure to restore the charter mill which was rolled back 2.9 mills.

Mayor James Hightower says the city has been out about $1.2 million.

"This is the difference between us having finances in place for ten years and having to do a special assessment every sixth months," says Hightower.

That alternative, Hightower says, will be more costly for residents.

He says if the millage renewal doesn't pass, a public safety assessment at $75 a year for residents, will be necessary.

The millage renewal, he says, will cost residents only $28 a year.

"We're getting the word out and people are asking questions, we're giving the answers and from what I'm hearing, it's very positive," says Hightower.

The Mayor believes voters didn't support the proposals in November because people were simply uneducated about the proposal last time around.

He says that's why they've been passing out thousands of flyers, advertising on the radio, and doing public information sessions.

Hightower also says that there was a lot for voters to take in, in November with it being a Presidential election.

He says next week, the ballot will be clear and residents will only have to focus on one issue.

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