Officials put 1-mill request for parks/rec. on Nov. ballot

Officials want to be sure everything is as clear and concise as possible when voters go to the polls in November.
That’s why it took three meetings held by two boards within five days to approve ballot language for a millage proposal to continue funding the Oxford Twp. Parks and Recreation Dept. and give it a little financial bump.
On Monday evening, the township board, during a special meeting held concurrently with a meeting of the parks and rec. commission, voted 6-0 to place a 15-year, 1-mill property tax request on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The next day, Aug. 14, was the deadline to file language for the general election.
If approved, the levy would begin with the December 2018 tax collection and end with the December 2032 collection.
It’s estimated that in the first year, the proposed millage would generate $862,140.
One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of a property’s taxable value.
Although the ballot language labels this proposal as “new additional millage,” in reality, it’s a renewal coupled with a slight increase.
The current parks/rec. operating tax, which expires with the December 2019 collection, is expected to roll back to 0.8234 mills this year due to the Headlee Amendment.
If this request is approved, officials would begin levying the 1-mill tax this year in place of the existing millage, meaning property owners would start paying an additional 0.1766 mill.
Part of the proposed increase is meant to help the parks and rec. department cover the added responsibility of running the new 3,126-square-foot senior center that will be built in Seymour Lake Township Park.
Construction will be funded by $300,000 from the township’s general fund reserves, plus $100,000 from the parks and rec. budget’s reserves.
Once built, the parks and rec. department plans to pay for the senior center’s staffing, operations and maintenance using monies from its annual budget, which is funded by its dedicated millage.
Township officials held Monday’s special meeting because they feared the original ballot language they approved in a 5-2 vote during last week’s regular meeting might be too “confusing” for voters, which could put the millage proposal at risk for failure.
“I went over this and if I were to see this on a ballot, as the normal citizen, I would be scared to death looking at it,” said Trustee Elgin Nichols.
The lengthy language passed on Aug. 8 had a word count of 203. When he was finished reading the lengthy language into the record as part of the motion, Trustee Jack Curtis remarked, “There’s not one period in there.”
Ron Davis, director of the parks and rec. department, said it’s difficult to educate the public about a ballot question “if (people) can’t comprehend what (they’re) voting on” because the language is too complex. “This has gotten out of hand, if you ask me,” he said.
Nichols and Treasurer Joe Ferrari, both of whom voted against the first version of the ballot language, expressed their desire for language that was simpler and “cleaner.”
“There’s got to be a better way,” Ferrari said.
“We want to do everything we can to make it pass,” Nichols said.
It was explained to the board that, due to legal requirements concerning the way tax proposals must be phrased, the first version was what the township attorney recommended.
Clerk Curtis Wright called it “typical language” for millage and bond proposals.
Supervisor Bill Dunn remarked, “I haven’t seen a ballot yet that’s just straightforward.”
“It seems like they could just write it in plain English, but unfortunately, we can’t,” he said.

9 Responses to "Officials put 1-mill request for parks/rec. on Nov. ballot"

  1. Erik Dolan   August 17, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    Another renewed millage which at one point was designed to be temporary, another “little financial bump”, and yet another project which benefits a tiny fraction of the population- yet relies heavily on taxpayer funding for operational viability. When does it end? When do we run out of “other people’s money”? When is enough, enough?

    Officials frequently articulate these matters in a fashion which gives the impression that they are only asking for mere pennies on the dollar, but the fiscal impact to the individual taxpayer is a cumulative one. At some point that cumulative impact adversely digs deep into the pocket book of each and every taxpayer. I would urge the voters to do their homework. Do the math, individually, to see how these matters impact your household before casting a vote.

    • Kevin Kadrich   August 21, 2018 at 9:12 am

      I am not a real smart guy, but it sure seems to me that “Parks & Rec” helps WAAAAY more than a “tiny fraction of the population” !!!?!?!? Everyone in the Community benefits from a good Parks & Rec in one form or another. If my piddaly $214.00 can help Ron and his team be more effective for the entire community, I am okay with it. I spend that much on car washes in the Summer from the dirt roads. I’ll just drive a dirty car and folks can continue enjoying the Jewels that are our Parks and “The Greatest Generation” can have a place for fellowship.
      Thanks Ron & Crew !!

  2. Erik Dolan   August 22, 2018 at 9:39 am

    Kevin, we seem to philosophically find ourselves at odds again regarding Oxford’s burdensome local taxing. I don’t question the effectiveness of our local government’s use of the funds; I believe funds are spent in a responsible manner. What I question is government getting involved in matters requiring continued tax levies and incremental increases for special interest projects to begin with.

    Everyone loves a park; you’ll likely get no dispute on that matter, and as a result the request will likely pass. To me it’s not a matter of whether it’s your stated amount of “$214”, or whether it’s “$10”. It’s the fact that (in my opinion) government feels the need to expand outside of providing basic need services, to providing special need services. A millage to rehab the parks makes sense, and I support that. I do not however support additionally taxing all residents to pay operational costs for a special interest center. I do not support additionally taxing residents for special needs transportation, I do not support taxing residents in order to support educational programs which benefit anyone other than American citizens and more specifically Oxford residents, and I do not support residents paying excessive water rates (essentially a tax) to operate redundant water systems (one literally within the other) because officials are blinded by foolishness, pettiness, and/or stubbornness.

    Government’s responsibility is to provide the basic needs, for the greatest number of residents possible, and for the least amount of money. Period. Government recognizes that it seems unpalatable for politicians and residents to publicly oppose additional taxation for matters such as park operational costs, “critical school funding”, and “critically needed transportation” etc. It may sound heartless to some- but the fact of the matter is that government has no business digging into anyone’s pockets to fund matters that should by provided by private services, churches, or already secured basic taxation.

    In my humble opinion government operates by:

    1) Making residents believe that they need something in order to justify expanding government, 2) Using surrogates to make them feel guilty that they are not providing their money for someone else’s project, 3) Making residents believe that the cost is “temporary”, or “not that high”, or 4) Embarrassing those who don’t go along with the program by suggesting that they don’t care about those who are less fortunate.

    That is my opposition to increased taxation for providing operational funding to the senior center Kevin. Did we not see the need for operating costs need in advance? Or did government simply want to secure the funds that they really wanted in one small bite at a time. You decide.

  3. Kevin Kadrich   August 22, 2018 at 11:11 am

    Whatevs, Bud – My paycheck is so riddled with money coming out of it at this point that another $9.00 a pay period isn’t going to trouble my soul.
    If Ron and his team say they need the money and there are those in the right position to agree with him, I’m good.
    Much like the Garbage Contract the Village went with, the money was right to the Village and a local company, Odd Jobs, was out. The new guys are the single worst service provider on the planet and my Tax money goes to CANADA. But we gotta go along to get along.
    But thanks very much for taking the time to explain what you’re thinking.
    I’m truly glad we have Council Members who are looking at every dollar and I sincerely appreciate your efforts.
    PS – I have decided and it’s a YES from me !

  4. Erik Dolan   August 22, 2018 at 2:29 pm

    The expression of differences is what in the past made our country great. Unfortunately today it often results in aspiring political figures to threaten boycotts of businesses, utilize tactics of intimidation, and a miriad of other militant antics. Most of our politicians today are too mealy mouthed to vocalize what they actually stand for, so while many are talking about what they “desperately need” today, they are actually spending that AND planning to ask for more one election cycle from now. They put on a smile, tell you that they care, kiss a few babies, and come to visit again two or four years later. Voters deserve better.

    Government should be very simple- spend within your means on the basic needs and leave the rest to non-profits and charitable actors. Instead- government tugs on the heartstrings, fears, and lack of voter sophistication to ram things down taxpayer’s throats one election cycle at a time.

    Regarding what’s already coming out of your check- the sentiment which you expressed is a perfect summation of the problem. The $300 doesn’t impact me at all, but I’m positive that there are folks out there who would prefer to decide where to spend that money themselves.

    I know that you often like to throw the trash collection issue out there, but it should be addressed with those who made the decision- not those who are stuck with it. With that said- lowest quality bidder wins. As it should be. I am yet to hear of a company devoid of issues or client complaints.

    But I do thank you for paying attention and having an opinion, “Bud”.

  5. Joseph G. Ferrari   August 22, 2018 at 4:57 pm

    Erik-I understand what you are saying, but you have to look at those requesting millage renewals and/or increases and look at their past track records. Our Oxford Township Parks and Recreation system is very well developed, forward-thinking and provides countless recreational opportunities for our residents. I would also argue that it is one of the major reasons why families choose to locate and/or stay in Oxford. No one likes paying monies, but there is a price tag for having these top-notch facilities and services available for all of us to enjoy. Nothing of substance is ever free.

  6. Erik Dolan   August 22, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    Joe- I concur obviously that the township does an exceptional job with the maintance of a mature park system. I do not take issue with the operation, nor the management. The park system benefits a majority of the community, and therefore is a universal asset.

    My dismay is with the construction of a new facility which does not benefit a majority of the community. That of course is a settled matter, but what is not settled is the greater Oxford area being tapped yet again to operate it. Time and again government is going to the people and pleading a case that they should fund projects that do not directly benefit a majority of the taxpayers. If those efforts fail the matter is then rammed down their throats again until it does pass. Preceeding those efforts are the propaganda campaigns of designed to “educate” the masses. ….as if taxpayers can’t determine when enough is enough for themselves.

    Young families are NOT moving to the area to utilize senior centers or subsidized transportation- but they sure are paying for them. I am constantly reading how great these programs are…and they may be, but some of these programs are only great for a very small targeted demographic. They are not so great for the masses who are paying for them, but will never see the benefit of a single dollar of their use.

    I’d like to see a small government re-focus on the greatest bang for the buck, for the largest percentage of beneficiaries as opposed to the spend, spend, spend mentality that we are hit with year after year.

    • Erik Dolan   August 26, 2018 at 4:06 pm

      Joe- You continue to suggest that I’m looking for EVERY program to benefit ALL residents. You are intentionally misrepresenting my statements. You know what I’m saying, but you’re trying to spin it in a fashion which looks better than reality. Again- I’m seeking the GREATEST benefit, to the MOST residents, at the LOWEST cost. Something ALL elected officials should be doing. I am also looking for departments, bureaus, agencies, etc to plan for the future, spend according to their projected needs, and spend responsibly as if every dollar matters.

      My brief experience in local government has confirmed my suspicions regarding government spending. Frankly, they never seem to plan on allowing any defined term millage designated for a specific matter expire. One millage, turns into the renewal of another, into the renewal of another. It’s much more palatable to renew, than to ask for a tax increase because most people don’t equate a renewal to the increase that it truly is. In the end however it is just more big government, liberal/progressive spending projects peddled to the public as a dire “need”.

      You cite the local schools as a positive example, and I cite them as a perfect example of my perspective. Do you mean to tell me that they could not have projected the need for new busses and budgeted for them? Really?? Nothing they operate could have been more easily projected. But instead- they spent freely from their budget and plead with the community for more money to buy new busses outside of that budget. They tugged on the heart strings by using the ol’ “It’s for the children” and “Don’t we want our children to be safe”, and “You must not love children if you won’t pay more taxes to keep them safe”, line of B.S. What they should have done was prepare along the way for the purchase of new busses by setting aside funds each fiscal year. However- they chose to create a faux emergency which they pushed out as government typically does.

      One thing that I do agree with- It’s to be decided by the voter. Fortunately for government- most voters are uninformed and uneducated on the topics and therefore will typically buy into the “desperate need” propaganda.

  7. Joseph G Ferrari   August 23, 2018 at 11:46 am

    Erik-I do understand what you are saying, but not every government program will benefit every citizen. There just isn’t a feasible way to make that happen. That is why it is up to taxpayers to evaluate any millage proposal and make their own determination as to whether there is a benefit. A great example is our local school system. Not every taxpayer has a child or children in our public school system, but I would argue that we all benefit in a myriad of ways. One of the major benefits is the stability of our home property values. I remember (before Proposal A) when the citizens of the Kalkaska School District did not pass a school operating millage. Pretty much every development and home sale came to a grinding halt in that area. There is also the argument that having a solid school system benefits us by educating and training the workforce of tomorrow, so that they will be positive contributors to our society (i.e. paying for our social security benefits when the time comes). These are all factors that residents have to evaluate and determine if they have merit and vote accordingly.


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