As Tip O'Neil was famous for ... "All Politics are Local"
For me, they sure are, and I'm damn fed up.
While I normally keep my politics to myself, I can't help it when it comes to our local county Board of Commissioners. I held my tongue when they decided on a recycling measure that those townships that did not approve of the millage would be denied recycling stations, having the bins removed the next day. Then they came to the voters bemoaning that they would not have enough funds for operations. Seems that they had been counting on the interest being earned on funds held for the new Courthouse.
Rough figures, $10,000,000 for the Courthouse, which had been earning about $500,000
Well … Duh!
How could they not foresee this situation.
Note that an “operating millage” passed by a mere 90 votes or .76%
This is a County Board that oversaw the construction of a new Jail, far larger than needed with the idea that they would make money by renting out beds … trouble is, others were building new jails as well.
But what really pisses me off is the issue of Farmland Preservation.
Farmland Preservation program
The board established this program but refused to find means to fund it, and were reluctant to put a millage on the ballot.
Local funding would have opened the door to Federal, State and Private Foundation matching grants.
When they finally did put a millage proposal up for a vote, there was vocal opposition.
Plenty of FUD thrown around, and a good bit of mis-information to scare the taxpayers.
The proposal was soundly defeated, and I accept that.
But then the bozo’s on the board decided that, despite no evidence to support their position, that the vote was a referendum on the program, not a millage.
Language on the ballot:
Proposal to Preserve Leelanau County Farmland
For the purpose of funding a voluntary program to permanently purchase development rights on working farms, orchards and vineyards in Leelanau County and to enhance access to matching grants, shall the tax limitation of general ad valorem taxes within Leelanau County be increased under Article 9, Section 6 of the michigan Constitution by one-half (.5) mill, or 50 cents per $1,000 of taxable value beginning December 1, 2006 for fifteen (15) years (2006-2020, inclusive), thereby supporting the Leelanau County Purchase of Development Rights Ordinance and operation of the Farmland Preservation Board? If approved and levied in full, this Millage will raise an estimated additional $998,300.80 for farmland preservation in the first calendar year of the levy based on state taxable valuation.
And here's "promotional material" from the County Board:
LEELANAU COUNTY MILLAGE PROPOSAL INFORMATION
One (1.0) Mill for two years to fund 9-1-1/ Emergency Management Services, Public Safety and General Operations on November 7, 2006 ballot.
WHY A MILLAGE?
A $1.986 million deficit is projected for 2007 and a similar deficit for 2008. State law requires counties to have balanced budgets.
WHAT’S CAUSING THIS DEFICIT SITUATION?
• The County’s population continues to grow (28%) along with expectations for services
• The costs for basic services and operations continue to rise, often exceeding the cost of living
• State and Federal funds for county services have declined
• Increased costs to provide online services for access to county information
• The 9-1-1 telephone surcharge expires this December
• Lost interest from accumulated savings for new Government Center
• The Headlee Amendment has reduced the 1969 approved 6.2 mill allocation to 3.7635 mills
• Increased operational costs with the opening of the new Government Center in 2008
IF VOTERS APPROVE THE MILLAGE, LEELANAU COUNTY’S LEVEL OF SERVICES, AS YOU KNOW THEM TODAY, WILL BE MAINTAINED.
WHAT WILL THE ONE (1) MILL COST? 50% of the residential parcels will pay less than $59/parcel per year and 50% will pay more than $59/parcel per year. To calculate what a 1 mill increase would cost for your parcel(s), you can go to www.leelanau.cc, click on the link, then enter your name or parcel number, then click on your parcel number. Citizens with a land line phone will save $25.44/year/line due to the telephone surcharge ending on December 31, 2006.
IF THE MILLAGE DOES NOT PASS, THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS HAS APPROVED THE FOLLOWING CUTBACKS TO BALANCE THE BUDGET:
• 9-1-1/Emergency Management Services (EMS) staff
• Public Safety – Marine Safety Unit, Narcotics Deputy (TNT), Animal Control Officer,
Community Work Program
• Human Services- MSU Extension/4H/ Master Gardener, Budgets for Parks & Recreation Board, Farmland Preservation Board, EDC Board, Planning Commission, Solid Waste Council
• Law Enforcement deputies
• Family Court direct service staff
• Prosecutor’s support staff
• Staff for the Clerk, Treasurer, Register of Deeds, Equalization, Planning, and Administration.
These cutbacks include a total of 29 full time and 9 part time employees out of 122 total employees or about a third of the workforce.
IMPACT: limited service or no service from the above departments.
If you have any questions or concerns, please go to the website: www.leelanau.cc for more information or contact the County Administrator (256-9711) or any member of the Board of Commissioners.
EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE
Provided by the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners
Devious wiggle room and close to dis-information : Maintain services "as you know them"
Sampling of reports and editorials:
Farmland Leelanau news Blot
Leelanau Enterprise column
Remember – when politicians run un-opposed, do NOT vote for them… no sense in encouraging them.
From the Record-Eagle:
All candidates are running unopposed for two-year terms on the Leelanau County board of commissioners. They are Jean Watkoski in District 1, Mark Walter in District 2, William Bunek in District 3, Mary Tonneberger in District 4, David Shiflett in District 5, Robert Hawley in District 6 and Melinda Lautner in District 7. All are Republicans.
Republican Glen Noonan is the only candidate for a six-year term on the county road commission.
Joseph Deegan is running unopposed for a six-year term as county probate judge.