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Time to Talk About the Headlee

Time to Talk About the Headlee

(Crystal A. Proxmire, 4/6/2011)


On May 3, 2011, voters in the City of Ferndale will be asked to vote on a property tax increase to help fill in where lost state revenue sharing and lost property taxes have left the City $2.3 million short.  Campaigns have organized around both sides of the issue, and there are two upcoming forums where residents can hear about and discuss the vote.

Proposal A would allow for a Headlee Override to bring the City’s property taxes back up to 20 mils, which is the amount allowed by the City Charter.  In 1963 the State’s Headlee Amendment limited the amount of tax increase due to rising home values, so that property tax increases did not exceed the rate of inflation.  Now that home values have fallen, cities are unable to raise taxes past the rate of inflation, meaning they cannot collect as much without a public vote.

Residents in favor of Proposal A have formed Yes to Ferndale’s Future.  Their website is  You can also find them on Facebook at

FACT – Ferndale Against Council’s Tax is a group that opposes Proposal A.  Their website was originally, but is now  Their Facebook page is

On Monday, April 11 The Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce will be hosting an information session about the election.  The session will take place at the Ferndale Public Library (222 E. 9 Mile) from 5:30pm-7:00pm. The session will be geared toward business owners who may have questions about how a property tax increase might affect them.  Although taxes on businesses won’t go up, property taxes will if Proposal A passes.  This session will give people an opportunity to ask questions of a city official, and representatives from both sides are expected to be there.

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

Both FACT and Yes to Ferndale’s Future have events and opportunities to connect with those who share a similar stance on the Proposal.  Both pages have information and ways to contact supporters if you would like to talk to them directly.

The wording of Proposal A is as follows:

“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 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.


Groups Organize Around Headlee Issue


Financial Committee Makes Final Recommendations for Headlee Override


Committee Recommends Tax Override
Financial Committee Continues
Financial Planning Committee tries to tackle budget problems 4 Us
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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