Financial Committee Makes Final Recommendations…

Financial Committee Makes Final Recommendations
For Headlee Override

The City of Ferndale Financial Planning Committee presented its findings to the City Council at the Jan. 10, 2011 Council meeting, and recommended a Headlee Override to increase taxes temporarily through 2015.

The Final Report is now available online. Download the 33 page document at

City Council will vote Jan. 24 if they will be placing a Headlee Override on the ballot for May. The Committee report provides language for limiting the tax increase:

“Propose to increase the City Operating tax by “up to 5.4552 mils per household
for a term not to exceed December 31, 2015”. This is the maximum the City
may raise this tax under state law and the Committee is recommending a cap of
3 mils for the first year, as previously stated. The millage assessment will raise
an additional $2.5 million to $3 million (avg. per year) over the recommended
time frame. These revenues, along with other cost reductions will allow City
Council to balance the City’s budget over this time frame as property values

Despite a good amount of internet buzz drummed up urging residents to speak at Council on this topic, only one resident came forward with comment. Kay Watson said that raising taxes could force more people to loose their homes, and suggested that ticketing people for not shoveling their sidewalks and doing more code enforcement might help close the budget deficit.

At the Call to Council Thomas Gagne also reminded the public and council that people are able to speak at the meetings if they have questions or comments, and Mayor Pro-Tem Kate Baker clarified that before Council can raise taxes, it will be going to a public vote.

If residents vote for the Headlee Override, the average home in Ferndale (with a $40,000 taxable value) would see an increase in taxes of $130 for the first year (at a 3 mil increase), which could go up to $218 a year if 5 mils are used.

The report gives an overview of the City’s financial situation, their reasons for recommending the tax increase, and other suggestions for how the City can save money. It puts into context the reasons for the budget problems, which are being faced by nearly every Michigan municipality due to decreases in property taxes and cuts in State revenue sharing. And finally, it gives suggestions for how the City might increase citizen involvement and understanding of how the budget process works.

Last year Ferndale 115 News editor and publisher Crystal A. Proxmire, and regular political observer Thomas Gagne were the only two residents to regularly attend budget meetings.

The Ferndale 115 News wrote a series of articles explaining the discussions of the meetings and the departments involved in the budgeting process. This year we actively sought reader comments and public suggestions about budget alternatives, and presented them to City Council in November. Previous articles are listed below, and can give readers a comprehensive look at how this committee came together, what factors go into a city’s budget and more.

Ferndale 115 News Previous Budget Coverage:

Committee Recommends Tax Override
Financial Committee Continues
Financial Planning Committee tries to tackle budget problems
May 5, 2010 – Final Budget Approved
May 4, 2010 – Council Puts off Budget Vote, Debates Parking and Animal Control
April 30, 2010 – Council approves individual sections of the general fund budget, waits to decide on DDA contributions and how to handle remaining $300,000 deficit
April 9, 2010 – Will DDA take over Parking?
April 4, 2010 – City, Fire and Police Give their Sides in Budget Talks
Feb. 1, 2010 – Public Forums to Discuss Parking
Jan 1, 2010 – Parking Fines Go Up, Other Changes to Come
If you would like to share your opinion on the budget issue, or any other Ferndale topic, please write to FERNDALE VIEWS can be read at Suggested length is 100-1,000 words. Limit one VIEW per month per reader.


Documents used by the Financial Committee can be found on the City’s website at:

The site also has a video archive of Council meetings that are set up so that residents can easily navigate to the part of the meeting they would like to watch simply by clicking a topic on the agenda screen.

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