Voters Defeat Howell Headlee Override, HPS Sinking Fund
November 7, 2018
Despite much outreach and public education meetings, voters in the City of Howell resoundingly turned down a Headlee Override request. A similar request also failed in Pinckney.
Howell is faced with a structural deficit and a broken state funding model. The request would have generated roughly $1.4-million per year for the next five years to be used primarily on roads and infrastructure, while around 20% would be used to correct a deficit and maintain city services at their present level. Mayor Nick Proctor says it’s not great news but the voters have made their voices clear so the City will operate under the existing fiscal stream. He notes they have a budget meeting scheduled next Monday evening, where Council will have to make some tough decisions for the next fiscal year on service reductions, and whether or not they put any money into infrastructure. Proctor says they’ll probably have to go the latter because they just don’t have money to repair the roads and will make do with what they have.
Proctor tells WHMI voters have decided that they prefer the tax levels currently in place so the City will live within its means and look at ways to trim services. He says City Council will have to start the tough task of right-sizing the budget to make select service reductions and probably not doing any roadwork for the foreseeable future, unless they get significant cost sharing from the state as they simply don’t have the funds to repair or resurface roads. He stressed the defeat was nothing personal for those on City Council as it is democracy at its best and the voters have spoken. Proctor added that Howell is not alone in this dilemma, noting the City of Brighton had a Headlee Override in May that failed by just 120-some votes.
Meanwhile, the Howell Public Schools Securing Our Future Sinking Fund Proposal failed by 28 votes. It would have provided approximately $1.3 (m) million dollars annually to fund safety and security upgrades, and major repair projects across the district. Superintendent Erin MacGregor says as a district, they’re disappointed the proposal did not win voter approval but student and staff safety will continue to be their top priority, and they’ll work to improve building security as funds are available. He says the district will also begin to re-evaluate its capital improvement needs as it looks for ways to complete major repair projects with limited capital improvement funds. (JM)