By Jessica Mathews /

Most of the time, appointments listed on municipal agendas are basically housekeeping items, but that wasn’t the case during Monday night’s virtual Howell City Council meeting.

There was an initial motion to re-appoint Robert Spaulding and Michael Yost to the TIFA or Tax Increment Financing Authority Board for terms ending June 30th, 2025. However, Mayor Pro-Tem Steve Manor requested the ballot/vote be split. A motion was then made to re-appoint Spaulding but failed in a 6-1 vote.

Manor explained to Council why he couldn’t support the appointment. He noted that Spaulding currently serves on the Planning Commission and said he exercised his free speech rights to oppose the City’s last losing Headlee Override request and he doesn’t think it’s good to have him on one of the City commissions.

Other members seemed to agree with Manor, with Councilman Bob Ellis saying it sounded like a good reason not to vote for him. Mayor Nick Proctor was the lone member opposed, meaning he supported Spaulding’s appointment. Proctor commented that everyone has a position on everything and said he didn’t think they should single someone out for their position on issues.

Spaulding told WHMI that “After more than 20 years of serving on the Tax Increment Finance Authority, the Howell City Council denied my reappointment for exercising my right to free speech about a tax increase (Headlee Override in 2018) that was voted down by a wide margin of city residents. I will continue to represent my neighbors in my role on the City of Howell Planning Commission, which I have held since 2008”.

TIFA provides oversight for industrial development activities and the funding of public infrastructure needs in the area where the TIFA district has been established.