Despite uncertainty about the fate of all of Dearborn's community pools, City Council on Tuesday approved the boundaries for a special assessment district that would, if passed, make residents of the district responsible for the cost of Hemlock Pool.
The issue now goes to a public education meeting; and following that, ballots will be sent to the nearly 2,000 homes in the district that must be mailed back with their response to the question: Do you want to be taxed to keep Hemlock Pool operational?
The SAD, if passed, would remain in place for 10 years, and would be paid equally by every homeowner in the district. It would amount to around $67, according to City Attorney Debra Walling, although the actual amount billed each year would be determined by the realized operational and improvement costs from the previous year.
"The cost per parcel would be approximately $67," said Walling, "and the property owner and immediate family would get pool tags."
Residents outside of the district would still be able to use the pool, but it's unclear at this time how they would pay for that access.
Originally, the special assessment district funding plan was set to move forward in six areas surrounding Dearborn's small pools: Hemlock, Lapeer, Summer-Stephens, Crowley, Ten Eyck and Whitmore Bolles.
However, that idea was kiboshed by pools proponents, who said they felt it was unfair to residents to move forward without having a more concrete idea as to what the cost to voters would be, among other concerns.
While Save our Pools members in April refused to hand over signatures that would put SADs on the ballot in the other five districts, Hemlock Pool supporters turned in nearly 500.
Dearborn City Council members voted unanimously to approve the SAD boundaries.
"From a democratic standpoint, it certainly gives the neighborhood the opportunity to make that decision," Councilman David Bazzy said. "To me, this appears to be a very perfunctory way for your group to say, 'Does this fit?'"
Several community members from the Hemlock area came forward to say that they did not support the SAD for various reasons–including the higher tax rate, and the fact that those who do not use the pool would still have to pay for it.
SOP members are still looking to move forward with a plan that would ask all residents to share the capital improvement, maintenance and operational costs of all eight neighborhood pools. However, for that charter question to appear on the November ballot, the group will have to collect 3,000 signatures, or convince council to put the question on the ballot.
No councilmembers have expressed an interest in proposing the millage question for the ballot.