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On November 7th, next Tuesday, the voters of Lenawee County will have the opportunity to directly affect the programs and services of the county and determine the direction of county funding for the future. The question before the voters of Lenawee County is the “Renewal of Separate Tax Limitation Proposal.” The success or failure of the proposal will directly impact operations of county government. Our primary concern is that when voters cast their votes next week they do so with an understanding of the policy and financial results of this proposal. The purpose of the proposal is to renew and establish the maximum authorized millage rate for County operations, general law townships and the allocated portion of the intermediate school district. In the case of Lenawee County, the millage rate has been reduced over time from the 5.75 mills approved in 1968 to the current 4.9412. The renewal would restore the maximum authorized to 5.75 mills.
There has been some misinformation about what the ballot proposal says and how to vote to either fund services or not fund services. As stated above, the renewal sets the maximum authorized levy. The County of Lenawee would use a portion of that increased authorization to continue to fund the services that are offered today. Simply put, a YES vote continues funding for all programs and services currently in place; a NO vote reduces or eliminates some of those programs and services. There have also been questions concerning which programs and services would be reduced or eliminated. The Board of Commissioners have two different budget recommendations before them at their meeting on November 8th; the day after the election. One recommendation, predicated on the ballot proposal passing, funds all current operations. The other recommendation, in the event the proposal fails, reduces and eliminates programs and services to maintain a balanced and affordable budget. Information about the budgets and the funding affected is available on the County website. In brief, if the ballot issue fails, funding for road patrol, 4-H programs, recycling, soil conservation, economic development and special court programs will be reduced or eliminated completely. This is not something that the Board of Commissioners wishes to do. However, the commissioners are responsible for the financial health of county government and they have constitutional and statutory requirements to provide certain offices and services. Simply put, they are required to fund some programs. Others are funded, or not, with any remaining funds. It should be clear that this ballot proposal will set the direction for Lenawee County in the coming years; determining what programs and services will be available to county residents. There is information on the county website to inform voters on this important decision.