August 7, 2018 Village of Bear Lake Referendum Vote Proposals

On August 7, 2018 Village registered voters will see two Proposals on the Ballot called as the result of voters asking for a say on two items passed by the Village of Bear Lake Council. [The threshold is 10%. It is believed @25% of current registered voters signed]

In both Proposals the result will impact the financial position of both Village government and Village tax payers.

  1. For a full list of Manistee Proposals select the following link august_2018_official_list_of_proposals (1)
  2. VILLAGE OF BEAR LAKE PROPOSAL TO APPROVE ORDINANCE NO. 10 OF 2017
    Shall Ordinance No. 10 of 2017, which provides for the appointment of the village clerk and village treasurer, and which was enacted by the Bear Lake Village Council October 18, 2017, be approved and take effect?
  3. VILLAGE OF BEAR LAKE PROPOSAL TO AUTHORIZE ISSUANCE OF MUNICIPAL SECURITIES
    Shall the Village of Bear Lake, Manistee County, Michigan, be authorized to issue municipal securities pursuant to Act 34, Public Acts of Michigan, 2001, as amended, in one or more series, in an amount of not to exceed Three Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($350,000) for the purpose of acquiring and constructing a new department of public works building, together with site work, parking facilities, fixtures, furnishings, equipment, and all related appurtenances and related work? The maximum number of years the municipal securities may be outstanding, exclusive of refunding, is thirty (30) years. The Village intends to use water system revenues, park fund revenues, major and local street fund revenues and general fund moneys as the primary source of revenue to be used to retire the municipal securities. The municipal securities will be limited tax general obligations of the Village and no new taxes will be levied for their payment. The Village estimates that of its current Village millage levy, 0.193 mills (19.3 cents for each $1,000 of taxable value) will be allocated in the first year to pay the municipal securities and the estimated simple average annual amount of millage allocated to retire the municipal securities is estimated to be 0.5019 mills (50.19 cents for each $1,000 of taxable value). The Village’s power to levy taxes to make the payments of principal and interest on the municipal securities is limited by applicable constitutional and statutory limitations on the taxing power of the Village and no new taxes are authorized to pay the principal of and interest on the municipal securities.

At this stage, being so close to the August 7 Election, the Village is constrained by MICHIGAN CAMPAIGN FINANCE ACT Act 388 of 1976

AN ACT to regulate political activity; to regulate campaign financing; to restrict campaign contributions and expenditures; to require campaign statements and reports; to regulate anonymous contributions; to regulate campaign advertising and literature; to provide for segregated funds for political purposes; to provide for the use of public funds for political purposes; to create certain funds; to provide for reversion, retention, or refunding of unexpended balances in certain funds; to require other statements and reports; to regulate acceptance of certain gifts, payments, and reimbursements; to prescribe the powers and duties of certain state departments and state and local officials and employees; to provide appropriations; to prescribe penalties and provide remedies; and to repeal certain acts and parts of acts.
(2) “Ballot question” means a question that is submitted or is intended to be submitted to a popular vote at an election whether or not it qualifies for the ballot.
 
169.206 “Expenditure” defined. 
Sec. 6. (1) “Expenditure” means a payment, donation, loan, or promise of payment of money or anything of ascertainable monetary value for goods, materials, services, or facilities in assistance of, or in opposition to, the nomination or election of a candidate, the qualification, passage, or defeat of a ballot question, or the qualification of a new political party. 
Although the Act was qualified by the O’Meara 2016 opinion the following still applies:
• Public facilities and resources can be used for public forums and public education on candidate elections and ballot questions provided the public resources are not used to influence the outcome of the election and views of all candidates and views of both supporters and opponents of a ballot question are treated equally. 
PENALTIES
A person who knowingly violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable, if the person is an individual, by a fine of not more than $1,000.00 or imprisonment for not more than 1 year, or both, or if the person is not an individual, by one of the following, whichever is greater:
(a.) A fine of not more than $20,000.00 or
(b.) A fine equal to the amount of the improper contribution or expenditure.

In this Part One of Two we will look at Proposal One.
For a previous discussion of this item see this posting:
https://bearlakemichigan49614.com/2017/11/30/village-clerk-treasurer-appointment-ordinance-ordinance-no-1-of-2017/

Village tax payers have asked for a chance to vote on a decision that permanently takes away their right to vote to Elect or Recall these two positions.

As the notice of the Ordinance, passed October 18, 2017 was only published once in the News Advocate and is nowhere on the Village web site, Village tax payers have now had adequate time to consider this change.

Pros
The rationale for proposing this change in Village Government is the stated belief by the current Council that someone elected to these positions may not have the necessary administration or financial management skills to properly do the job. In addition, as the electorate could choose a different candidate every two years, this could result in disjointed institutional records.

Cons

  1. These 2 positions currently account for almost 1/3 of all collected property taxes. The Village has already contracted with a CPA to ostensibly ‘assist’ with financial reporting.
    BY FOIA the following 2017 W3 return was received:
    16052018 PDF
    In viewing the current remuneration for these two positions it is difficult to see where changing the nature from elected to appointed would save any money.
  2. Under this Ordinance neither appointees would be required to be village residents. 
  3. If there is concern that an elected Clerk or Treasurer, (neither are voting positions), may not possess sufficient skills to perform the duties – the same standard should be applied to elected Village Council positions that do have voting/financial decision making privileges.
  4. An appointed Clerk and Treasurer would serve at the pleasure of the Council, opening the appearance of political/personal favor or leaving the appointee open to political/personal interference. 
  5. Yet to be resolved are multiple employment and human resources questions. Would they be employees or contractors
  6. Will these be ‘at will’ positions? Meaning that they could be dismissed without cause. Equally an employee could resign at any time.
  7. As the Ordinance states, these will be two year appointed positions, a new person could be, in theory, be appointed every two years – invalidating the rationale of the desire for continuity.
  8. Changing the position affects withholding and benefits and becomes subject to all labor and fair employment laws.
  9. A comprehensive Job Description, hours of performance, manner of posting and interviewing candidates, insurance and Bonding costs has not been presented.