A dedicated police millage, whether or not to allow medical marijuana facilities, and a school district sinking fund are all part of proposals on the general election ballot for some local residents. Representatives recently provided insight into the proposals.

A dedicated police millage, whether or not to allow medical marijuana facilities, and a school district sinking fund are all part of proposals on the general election ballot for some local residents. Representatives recently provided insight into the proposals.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Three local proposals on ballot for Keego Harbor, Walled Lake Consolidated Schools

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published October 24, 2022

KEEGO HARBOR/WALLED LAKE — Aside from proposals at the state and county levels, Keego Harbor and Walled Lake Consolidated Schools residents have matters that are even closer to home to consider when mulling over the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

Local representatives recently went beyond ballot language to shed some light on the proposals.


Keego Harbor dedicated police millage proposal
A supplemental police millage is set to expire in 2026.

The millage was 4 mills, which is $4 per $1,000 of taxable property within Keego Harbor.

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 are being asked if they want to replace the current millage and increase it to 8 mills, which would be levied from 2023-2029.

Keego Harbor City Council member Rob Kalman discussed the millage proposal.

“There’s been some rollbacks every year because the way taxes work in the state of Michigan; we’re getting less money than we did before, and expenses keep going up – pension costs went up, just general costs for everything – insurance and gas, cars. … It’s really hard,” Kalman said. “Also, there’s a shortage in police officers nationwide, so communities, they’re competing for talent. So in order to be competitive, we’re gonna have to look at how much we pay officers if we want our own police department. We’ve lost some officers because they’ve gotten better pay in other departments.”

From Kalman’s perspective, if the proposal isn’t approved by voters, “hard decisions” will have to be made.

“Rather than taking money, as we’ve been doing, from the general fund to help fund the Police Department after our dedicated police millage, we decided to ask the residents to make a decision – are you willing to fund our Police Department? Are you willing to spend more tax money to help fund your own local Police Department? The revenue that we’ve been taking from our general fund to help support the officers, it limits what you can do in other areas of the city,” he said.

Kalman said the increased funds would cover “general operation of our own local Police Department.”

Kalman described the current economy as tough and said that inflation is a “very real thing.”

He understands that aside from matters that pertain to city government, the economy and inflation are also impacting residents on an individual level.

“I feel the same thing they feel; costs go up for everybody,” Kalman said. “It’s reality. We’re all gonna have to work together to figure out how we move forward.”


Medical marijuana proposal
Michigan voters approved medical marijuana use in 2008 and recreational marijuana use in 2018.

However, despite that approval, it is up to individual municipalities to decide whether to permit commercial use of marijuana in their respective jurisdictions.

Keego Harbor is currently an opt-out community for sales of both medical and recreational marijuana.

However, a proposal on the Nov. 8 general election ballot could change that.

According to ballot language, a proposed charter amendment would end Keego Harbor’s current prohibition of medical marijuana facilities and create a city department for medical marijuana responsible for overseeing the local regulatory structure of facilities.

“Basically, an outside group decided they wanted to have a medical marijuana facility in Keego Harbor; we voted years ago to opt out of medical marijuana,” Kalman said. “The outside group got signatures, and it was placed on our ballot. … My concern is that what they are asking to do is restructure our charter, and there are some big asks in there, which really isn’t an ask – it’s Keego Harbor must do ‘X’; Keego Harbor must do ‘Y.”

Kalman elaborated on his concerns.

“Personally, I’m a proponent of local control,” he said. “I do not like it when an outside group comes in and tries to change our charter and limit how we run our own city. That I find very problematic.”

According to Kalman, the group behind the initiative goes by the name of Oakland Cares.

“I haven’t dug deep, to know who’s funding them,” he said. “I suspect somebody who wants to open up a dispensary in Keego Harbor’s behind it. … There’s no name associated or attached that I’d seen. If you just think about it, who’s gonna spend a ton of money in trying to get something in our community unless they stand to profit from it?”

At press time, a representative from Oakland Cares had not responded to a request for comment.

According to a fact sheet on Keego Harbor’s website, the amendment would authorize marijuana facilities to operate between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Mondays-Sundays, although any marijuana processor or grower facility may operate 24 hours per day, seven days a week.

The fact sheet also states that the charter amendment shall become effective immediately upon certification by the Oakland County Board of Canvassers or the appropriate controlling body for certification of election results under state law.

Kalman later sent an email that states, “All Keego Harbor residents should read the full proposal language.”

“What they will read on the ballot they fill out on election day is a brief extract from a much larger document. That document has a lot of language dictating to our city what must be done,” Kalman stated. “If the proposal passes, our city must then hire staff to run a whole new department – at our expense. The city council must enact all ordinances and resolutions that the petitioner wants – and our city can’t create any ordinance or resolution limiting or restricting the petitioner’s wishes.”

Kalman wanted to clarify something via his email.

“I am not passing judgment on people as to whether or not they use cannabis,” he stated. “For me this proposal has nothing to do with marijuana. To be very clear, I do not like, at all, an outside group trying to dictate and revise our own city charter. I’m a firm believer in local control and our own city council writing our own ordinances and charter amendments.”

Proponents of access to marijuana say that as the stigma decreases, more and more people are interested in the product for fighting pain, stress, inflammation and a host of other problems. As a natural product, it may appeal to people who have not found relief with prescriptions. Proponents also say that it is a highly regulated product and that crime doesn’t spike in areas where it’s sold.

Michigan was recently estimated to have one of the largest marijuana industries in the U.S. at $1.4 billion, according to statistica.com. Municipalities that allow dispensaries receive marijuana tax distributions from the state in varying amounts. Marijuana funds collected under the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act are distributed in the following way:

• 15% goes to municipalities in which a marijuana retail store or a marijuana microbusiness is located, in proportion to the number of them within the municipality.

• 15% goes to counties in which a marijuana retail store or microbusiness is located, in proportion to the number located there.

• 35% goes to the School Aid Fund to be used for K-12 education.

• 35% goes  to the Michigan Transportation Fund for the repair and maintenance of roads and bridges.

To learn more about the local proposal, visit keegoharbor.org.


Walled Lake Consolidated School District proposal
This proposal, if approved, would renew and restore the Walled Lake Consolidated School District’s authority to levy a building and site sinking fund tax, with proceeds used to make improvements and repairs to the district’s facilities, according to language on the ballot.

If approved, the district would be authorized to levy a 0.5 mill, which is 50 cents per $1,000 of taxable valuation from 2023-2032.

The ballot language states that the millage would provide estimated revenues to the WLCSD of approximately $3,034,496 during the 2023 calendar year.

Bill Chatfield is the Walled Lake Consolidated School District’s director of operations.

“We have a ballot proposal for a renewal of a sinking fund millage that we have had in place in Walled Lake Schools since 2004,” he said. “It would generate funds that would be used to repair and renovate facilities, approved site projects and renovations. This sinking fund millage, if approved, would simply create a continuation of the existing sinking fund millage.”

Chatfield touched on some of what he considers the key points of the proposal.

“It provides a dedicated source of funding for school repairs and renovations,” he said. “If it weren’t for this available source of funding, the only way we would be able to make repairs to things like roofs, parking lots and boilers would be to use general fund dollars, which essentially are instructional dollars – dollars that are intended to go into the classroom to educate kids. We would have to reallocate some of those funds to make these repairs, or, simply, those repairs would not be made – we would have a tremendous amount of deferred repair items that only tend to compound problems when it comes to heating, cooling, and safety issues.”

Chatfield provided an example of what the cost would be for some residents, if the proposal passes.

“It is a property tax-based levy,” he said. “For the owner of a $200,000 home that has a $100,000 state equalized value, it would cost $50 per year because it’s one-half mill. So essentially, it’s $50 per year for the homeowner of a $200,000 home, which is identical to what it has been since 2004. … This is a renewal.”

Although it is a renewal, Chatfield said that it is always challenging to ask people to pay taxes for various programs.

“But this is one of the most affordable programs that any homeowner in the school district could support,” he said. “Every single dollar that is generated from the sinking fund millage goes directly into repairing or renovating schools within the Walled Lake School District. Unlike a lot of other taxes, all of this tax money stays within the district.”