(Crystal A. Proxmire, 2/25/2011)
NOTE: On Friday, Feb 25, 2011 the petition was withdrawn by Robert Sinclair.
Ferndale Resident Robert Sinclair has filed a recall petitions against four members of City Council, for what he says is “financial mismanagement.” The petitions said only that, and gave no further details or explanations. The County Clerk is expected to hold a hearing March 3, to determine if the petition is clear enough to proceed. Kate Baker, Scott Galloway, Melanie Piana and Mike Lennon were named in the recall. Mayor Dave Coulter, who was recently appointed by Council to fill former Mayor Craig Covey’s position, was not named.
If the petition is not approved as worded, Sinclair will have the opportunity to reword it. He would then need 1,700 signatures for each councilperson in order to have the recall be successful.
Sinclair has not returned requests for comments, but members of Council are surprised by the petition. “It’s telling that we’ve never heard of him,” said Baker.
Galloway defended the City’s finances, giving several reasons why he believes Sinclair’s claim of “financial mismanagement” is incorrect:
~The City millage rate over the last decade or so has dropped from 20 to 14.5 mills.
~The budget has been balanced every year I have been in office.
~Ferndale has taken aggressive steps over the last several years to contain costs through negotiation of health care and retirement benefits with our unions and, unfortunately, through buyouts and layoffs of employees.
~We have consolidated operations within City Hall and are in the process of streamlining our financial operations with newly purchased enterprise software.
~Tax collection and assessing have been at least partially outsourced.
~Our debt has been refinanced several times to lower our interest expense and improve cash flow.
~Byron Photiades has worked with our vendors to secure no price increases or price reductions for infrastructure improvement and trash collection while negotiating revenue enhancements such as renting space to neighboring communities at the City Yard.
~Our City Manager and Fire Chiefs, at the direction of Council, have sought out, negotiated and implemented service sharing agreements with our neighbors that annually result in hundreds of thousands of dollars of additional revenue for Ferndale.
~Given the dramatic decline in property values (and thus tax revenues) and the State of Michigan’s broken promises to fund statutory shared revenue, Ferndale is in very good financial shape in both absolute and relative terms, but financial management of a city is never done. If we wish to maintain current service and staffing levels, then Ferndale is compelled to continue cost containment and cost cutting while also working to increase revenues.
~Thanks to our outstanding City Hall staff, led by Jaynmare Hubanks, and City Councils that have always been willing to make the tough budget choices, Ferndale has positioned itself well for this recession.
Galloway also points to the State Treasury Department’s website which lists Ferndale in the top third of best fiscally managed communities in the state. http://www.michigan.gov/treasury/0,1607,7-121-1751_47023-171423–,00.html
A small group of residents, led by Sean House, is being vocal about criticisms of government in general, and is speaking out against a Headlee Override which will be voted on by the public in May. House is becoming well-known for presenting inaccurate information and spamming his blog links on other people’s websites and Facebook pages. Although The Ferndale 115 News is committed to sharing multiple perspectives, we have had to block House from posting on our Facebook page. Although you can read a Ferndale View opposing the tax here (with corrections) https://oaklandcounty115.com/2011/01/07/resident-says-no-to-taxes-ferndale-view-opinion/. It is unclear, since Sinclair has not returned requests for comment, if he is part of this movement or not. Updates will be provided as available.