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Royal Oak Mayor Jim Ellison

Stephen Henderson talks with Royal Oak Mayor Jim Ellison about Royal Oak’s successful downtown, community, and taxes. 

  • Good city planning:  Ellison credits good city planning in the 70’s and 80’s with much of Royal Oak’s downtown.  He says that because of how the city was built and has deliberately grown, the downtown is here to stay. 
  • Still a family suburb: Stephen says that Royal Oak has become more of an urban space than what he remembers from his childhood.  Ellison emphasizes that the more suburban Royal Oak is still there, and that it is connected to downtown.  He says that many people move to Royal Oak because of the downtown, and that it especially attracts young, two-income professional households. 
  • Goals for downtown development: Ellison says that Royal Oak aims to develop 180,000 square feet of class A office space by 2020, and that the city government is focusing on attracting the type of retail businesses that will help grow the downtown. 
  • Relationship to Detroit:  Ellison believes that small cities are dependent on large cities, so the success of the suburbs and Royal Oak are tied to Detroit.  He says that it is important to support Detroit, and that he and his wife enjoy visiting Midtown and Downtown Detroit. 
  • Roads and taxes:  Ellison talks about Royal Oak’s taxes and road millage.  He says that he was not content to wait for Lansing to do something about the roads, so they passed a successful millage to fix city roads.  Royal Oak has passed two millages in the past two years, and will soon vote on a small tax cut.  Mayor Ellison says that this is because of a surplus in the city’s recycling budget, and that he wants the city government to be a good steward of citizens’ money. 

Click the audio link above to hear the full conversation.  

County: Oakland
Population: 58,946 (census 2013) 
Median Household Income: $62,789 (2009-2013 census)
Poverty Rate: 6.9% (2009-2013 census) 
Form of government: Elected City Commission and Mayor 
Education: High School Graduation Rate: 90.62 in 2012
(http://patch.com/michigan/royaloak/royal-oaks-4-year-graduation-rates-top-90-percent)
89% of 2013 graduates enrolled in college
( http://www.royaloakschools.org/high-school/academics/ ) 
Race: 90.7% White, 4.3% Black, Asian 2.4%, Hispanic or Latino 2.3% (census 2010)
Crime Rate: Low ( http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-Royal-Oak-Michigan.html )

Image credit: Andrew Jameson

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