Keego Harbor Mayor Rob Kalman is pictured near a city police vehicle. After defeating a millage proposal in November, Keego residents can expect to see a dedicated police millage proposal back on the ballot in May.

Keego Harbor Mayor Rob Kalman is pictured near a city police vehicle. After defeating a millage proposal in November, Keego residents can expect to see a dedicated police millage proposal back on the ballot in May.

Photo provided by Rob Kalman

Keego to put police millage back on the ballot after Nov. failure

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published February 22, 2023

KEEGO HARBOR — Last November, part of the general election ballot for Keego Harbor residents included a dedicated police millage proposal.

Keego residents currently have a supplemental police millage of 4 mills, which is $4 per $1,000 of taxable value of property within the city.

However, it was reduced to 3.6189 mills due to the Headlee Amendment. Under the Headlee Amendment to the Michigan Constitution, a community’s millage rates are reduced to offset any increase in overall taxable value exceeding the rate of inflation in a given year.

Voters were asked in November if they wanted to replace the millage and increase it to 8 mills.

The proposal narrowly failed, with 581 residents voting against it and 557 voting in favor of it.

However, a dedicated police millage proposal is set to make a return to ballots as part of a special election May 2.

A motion to include the dedicated police millage on ballots was unanimously approved at a regular Keego Harbor City Council meeting Jan.19.

The following is what Keego residents can expect to see on their ballots this spring:


It is proposed that the supplemental police millage in Section 11.S(a) expiring in 2026 of 4.0 mills ($4.00 per $1,000.00 taxable value) on taxable property within the city of Keego Harbor, reduced to 3.6189 mills ($3.619 dollars per $1,000.00 taxable value) by required millage rollbacks, be replaced and increased to 7 .0 mills levied for 7 years 2023 to 2029, inclusive by adding Section 11.S(b). When levied in 2023, this millage would raise an estimated $844,130.00 in the first year. Approximately $97,650.00 will be required to be distributed to the Tax Increment Finance Authority. Shall this proposed amendment be adopted?”

If the measure is approved, residents will pay 3.3811 more mills — more than double the current supplemental police millage levy — which would cost the owner of a home with a taxable value of $100,000 around $338 more per year.

An email from Keego City Manager/City Clerk Tammy Neeb stated that the 2022-23 police budget is $921,939.

“We need the money for our police department,” Keego Mayor Rob Kalman said. “We’re spending a lot of money to support our police department, which is preventing us from using some of the general fund dollars to do other projects and provide other services in the city. … We (have) a 4 mill public safety millage on the books right now. … We’re going to ask the voters to repeal and replace it with a 7 mill. … It’s a dedicated police millage.”

One thing that Kalman wanted to make clear is that “as the mayor of the city, I’m not allowed to advocate on behalf of the City Council either for or against the millage; I’m allowed to educate and inform people.”

Part of the general election ballot for Keego residents this past November also included a proposed charter amendment to end Keego’s prohibition of medical marijuana facilities and create a city department for medical marijuana responsible for overseeing the local regulatory structure of facilities.

That proposal passed, with 637 residents in favor and 527 opposed, and from Kalman’s perspective, the fact that it was on the same ballot as the dedicated police millage may be the reason the latter was not approved by voters.

“I think a lot (of) people came out and supported the marijuana initiative that was from an outside group. I can only suspect that some of the people that were pro marijuana might not have been pro police — that could be possible,” Kalman said. “It could be, quite frankly, that some people don’t want higher taxes, period, and maybe we didn’t do a good enough job explaining and educating the public as to why the police millage was needed.”

According to Kalman, with a union contract coming up, “there would be a pay increase” that a dedicated police millage could help cover.

Replacing the current in-car camera system, getting body cameras for police personnel and other “costly” items are some of the reasons a dedicated police millage could be beneficial, from Kalman’s perspective.

“Our officers are far from the highest paid in the area, which makes attracting (and) retaining officers a challenge,” Kalman said. “Even if the police millage passes, it’s not gonna cover a hundred percent of the police operating budget; it’s just gonna alleviate the pressure … in operating all the other city departments. It’s expensive for a small city to have its own police department – to staff it, to equip it, to train the officers.”

One option for small cities is to outsource police services, and Kalman said that there have been discussions about that in the past.

“We’ve talked to Oakland County; we’ve talked to West Bloomfield. Each time we do that residents are pretty clear — they want to have their own local police department,” he said. “They just have to understand that there’s an expense to having your own police department and it keeps going up. If residents … want their own police department they’re gonna have to, hopefully, contribute a little bit more, in terms of local taxes.”

Keego City Council member Theresa Shimansky shared some thoughts about the dedicated police millage at the Jan. 19 City Council meeting.

“Our police department is … what keeps our people safe,” Shimansky said. “For us to have to look at not having the appropriate funds for that would be really hard, and the budget decisions that will have to be made — I do not look forward to that if this does not pass.”

Keego City Council member Ashley Attisha wanted to clarify something at the meeting.

“It’s not an additional 7 mills to what we’re paying,” Attisha said. “We’re actually repealing the 3.6189 mills that the taxpayers are currently paying, and replacing that with 7 mills, so really it’s only an addition of about 4 mills, or less than 4 mills.”

From the perspective of Keego City Council member Michael Karson it is “really, really important” that the city continues to fund the Keego Police Department.

“It’s not acceptable to source it out to the sheriff’s department or West Bloomfield or anybody else,” Karson said at the City Council meeting. “It’s our department and we have to keep it.”

Even if a dedicated police millage does fail for a second consecutive time, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Keego will definitely choose to outsource for police services.

“I don’t want that coming across, but if it fails, we’re gonna have to look and explore what our options are, in terms of how we’re going to function with our own police department,” Kalman said.

He acknowledged that current economic conditions are making things tough for a lot of people.

“Expenses are up for everybody, but let’s just see what happens in May,” Kalman said. “All the city finances are open book.”

Keego Harbor Police Chief John Fitzgerald declined to comment on the ballot proposal.