West Bloomfield School District bond proposal passes, Keego police millage rejected

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published May 5, 2023

 On May 2, voters approved a West Bloomfield School District bond proposal and rejected a Keego Harbor police millage. Keego Harbor City Hall was among the voting locations.

On May 2, voters approved a West Bloomfield School District bond proposal and rejected a Keego Harbor police millage. Keego Harbor City Hall was among the voting locations.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


KEEGO HARBOR/WEST BLOOMFIELD — On May 2, voters in Keego Harbor and the greater West Bloomfield area had the opportunity to vote on two separate proposals.

One was a $148 million bond proposal being sought by the West Bloomfield School District, and the other was a dedicated police millage in Keego Harbor.

The school bond proposal passed, with 2,568 residents voting for it and 1,871 against it.

Although the majority of voters in West Bloomfield approved the proposal, it was rejected in Keego Harbor, Orchard Lake and Sylvan Lake.

In Keego Harbor, 74.38% voted against it; 65.67% of Orchard Lake residents opposed it, and 77.50% of Sylvan Lake residents voted against it.

More than 20% of eligible residents opted to cast a vote in the bond election.

Of the 4,439 total votes, 2,542 came via absentee ballots, with 1,897 residents showing up for the election.

Aside from releasing a statement, the district declined to comment after the bond vote.

“On behalf of the West Bloomfield School District Board of Education, students, and staff THANK YOU for your support of the 2023 Bond initiative! As a result of its successful passage, the District will be able to focus on building a brighter future for our students,” the statement reads. “This bond funding will allow the District to enhance elementary programming, create dedicated early childhood spaces, improve our STEAM/CTE spaces at the high school and improve overall efficiency and safety. The West Bloomfield School District (WBSD) is known across the state for having a strong history of well-supported ballot initiatives and we are grateful for your continued support and partnership. We will continue to demonstrate fiscal responsibility and accountability as these projects move forward. WBSD has established a Bond Community Engagement Committee. As we continue the academic work and focus on successful student outcomes, we welcome you to continue your engagement in making this school system fantastic. If you are interested in serving on the Bond Community Engagement Committee, please email james.stottlemyer@wbsd.org.”

Some Keego residents were opposed to the bond proposal after the district decided not to fix the aging Roosevelt Elementary School with previous bond money.

Since a ceiling in a room at the school collapsed last year, students have been attending what was previously Abbott Middle School.

Keego resident David Emerling, who is part of Keego’s Planning Commission, reacted to the passage of the proposal.

“The district spent $75,000-plus dollars blanketing all kinds of campaigns, whether it was robocalls, mailers and all kinds of things,” he said. “We didn’t have a budget, so we did the best we could. … It’s on the district now to do the right thing of what they’re gonna do with the Keego students. … Hopefully, they decide to keep Abbott as the new Roosevelt. They have money in the bond to do something to that school.”

Emerling added that he was “disappointed” that more Keego residents didn’t vote on the proposal.

There were a total of 402 votes from Keego residents. In Orchard Lake, 300 residents cast votes, with 40 doing so in Sylvan Lake.


Keego Harbor dedicated police millage
In 2026, a supplemental police millage of 4 mills, which is $4 per $1,000 of a home’s taxable value, is set to expire.

On May 2, voters were given the opportunity to decide if they wanted to increase the levy to 7 mills from 2023 to 2029.

The voters rejected the proposal, with 229 voting against it and 173 voting in favor of it.

A police millage also failed when it was placed on ballots at the general election last November.

In a February edition of the Beacon, Keego Mayor Rob Kalman acknowledged that there have been discussions in the past about outsourcing for police services.

“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.”

When speaking earlier this year, Kalman did make it clear that if a dedicated police millage was to fail for a second consecutive time, it wouldn’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,” he said.

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

Police Chief John Fitzgerald could not be reached for comment.