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Groups Organize Around Headlee Override Issue

Groups Organize Around Headlee Override Issue

(Crystal A. Proxmire, 3/22/2011)


On May 3, 2011, voters in the City of Ferndale will be asked:


“Shall the City of Ferndale, County of Oakland, Michigan, be permitted to increase its authorized millage rate in 2011 for a term of five (5) years ending December 31, 2015, by an additional 5.4552 mills ($5.4552 per $1,000) on each dollar of the taxable value of all real and personal property in the City of Ferndale, which will restore to the City the Charter-authorized millage amount for general purposes which has been reduced by Section 31 of Article IX of the State Constitution of 1963, all of which tax revenues would be disbursed to the City of Ferndale; provided that the City shall not be authorized to levy more than three (3) additional mills in 2011. The Charter-authorized millage amount has been reduced by required millage rollbacks in recent years to 14.5448. If approved, the initial three (3) mills authorized for levy would raise approximately $1,681,806 in 2011.” (


The decision to ask for a tax increase came about after over four months worth of discussion by a citizen-based Financial Committee over how to make up for the $3 million budget shortage caused mainly by falling home values and cuts to state revenue sharing.

If residents pass 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.  Even if the millage increase passes, the City still faces over $1million in shortages.  Because of a state law capping tax increases, some residents will pay more or less depending on the length of time they have owned their home.  The most expensive tax increase would be less than $550 for the year.

Ferndale Against Council’s Tax and Yes to Ferndale’s Future have both formed campaigns to express their sides of the issue.  On May 3 the voters will decide.




FACT or Ferndale Against Council’s Tax officially formed on March 14, 2011 and has begun raising money to defeat Proposal A.  Led by resident Sean House, FACT claims to have over 150 volunteers. Their website has 7 followers and does not publish a list of supporters. (NOTE: FACT has since published a list of supporters on their Facebook Page, at the following link as of March 28 –


“Many Ferndale residents do not wish to get into disagreements with their neighbors and friends around the city. They don’t want to argue with the person across the street so they keep a quiet vigilance against it. They speak quietly to friends and when they discern they are on the same side, they pass the word,” House wrote in a recent blog about the lack of public support.

House, the President of South Oakland Area Republicans, says that it is frivolous spending that has caused the budget shortfall and that the solution isn’t to bring tax revenue back up, but to cut everything that he deems not essential such as The Kulick Community Center and the Downtown Development Authority.  He has also been critical of Council’s decision to postpone accepting a SAFER grant until after the budget process is complete.  (more info on the SAFER grant can be found at




Yes to Ferndale’s Future was formed by a core group of about 25 volunteers, supported by endorsers who are listed on the campaign’s website  Yes to Ferndale’s Future is co-chaired by Dennis Whittie and Greg Pawlica, who both served on the Financial Committee. The campaign is also taking contributions.  There are several committees involved in the campaign, with different residents in charge of literature creation, website, literature distribution, and fundraising.  “It’s a true citizen’s campaign,” Pawlica said.  “The committees are doing everything, and everybody seems to be a leader.  I’ve worked on a lot of campaigns and this is the nicest campaign I have ever worked on.  What really makes it work is that there are people from all walks of life;  even people like Helen Webber and Frank O’Donnell who have been in their home for a longer time and are facing larger tax increases.”

Yes to Ferndale’s Future provides a question and answer section explaining their reasons for supporting Proposal A.  The focus of their campaign is to maintain the quality of life, services and public safety so that Ferndale can continue to be an attractive community for people to move to and live. They stress that the override is capped to end in 2015 and that even with increases many will still be paying less in taxes than they did a few years ago because of the decreases that have already taken place.




Citizens for Fair Ferndale will be holding a public forum on Proposal A, on Saturday, April 23, 2011 from 2-3:30pm at the Ferndale Public Library.  A representative from FACT and Yes to Ferndale’s Future will be on hand to answer questions about the issue.  For more information, check out CFF’s website at



Financial Committee Makes Final Recommendations for Headlee Override

Committee Recommends Tax Override
Financial Committee Continues
Financial Planning Committee tries to tackle budget problems
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.


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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