By Jim Newell
Now that the Orion Township Parks and Recreation Millage has passed, the village wants its share for its own parks.
The Lake Orion Village Council voted unanimously at its meeting on Monday to send the township board of trustees a formal letter requesting $32,000 of the millage money for the first year of the millage.
Village Manager Joe Young said the village has previously had conversations township Supervisor Chris Barnett, Treasurer Donni Steele and Trustee Mike Flood regarding sharing the funds, “since village taxpayers would also be contributing and paying into that special tax millage. At this point, there’s been no formal response to that.”
“This is the fair thing to do,” said council President Ken VanPortfliet, adding the village had broached the idea with the township before the election.
The village’s letter reads, in part:
“The Village is asking the Township to provide the Village with its proportioned share of the tax money captured with this millage. As your ballot states and implies, the money is to be used for the Township Parks and Recreation Department. Since the Village of Lake Orion is part of the Township, we continue to request that the Village be apportioned an amount that is reasonable and fair based upon acreage.
“The Village requested that the allocation for funds be based on acreage as an appropriate way for the Village to receive its fair share. Village parks are 10 acres, for all 6 parks, while the Township parks measure over 500 acres. Based upon the calculations, the Village would share in 2% of the mill raised, or approximately $32,000 for the first year of the 5 years that the millage would be assessed.”
Young said the village’s attorney has researched the law and has not found any legal reason why the township could not share the parks and recreation millage funds.
“Since the law is silent to this issue, the Village believes the Township could, and should, legally partake in such an agreement to serve all of the citizens including the Township residents who reside within the corporate limits of the Village and the parks therein,” the letter states.
In return for the funds, the village is offering the township a seat on the village’s parks and recreation advisory committee, either as a voting or non-voting member, so that the township could have a say in how the money is spent.
New Councilmember Theresa Rutt, who is on the village’s parks and recreation advisory committee, said the committee had discussed and recommended offering the township a position as a non-voting member.
Village residents are township residents, so their interests are represented, Rutt told the council before the vote. “Thus, the township has a voice (on the committee),” she said.
As an alternative to paying the funds to the village, the village is requesting the township consider funding specific village projects and programs, such as the Paint Creek bank stabilization project.
Voters approved the five-year, 1-mill parks and recreation millage in the Aug. 7 primary election. The millage will run from 2018-2022 and is expected to collect about $1.67 million in the first year. The millage will be levied in December for township’s upcoming fiscal year.
The township has already created a five-year development and improvement plan for the funds. (See the Aug. 22 issue of The Lake Orion Review for the project’s list.)
The township budgeted $1.98 million of this year’s $7 million budget for parks and recreation and is projecting more than $2 million in costs for 2019.
The township’s parks and recreation millage will help fund the parks and recreation operations, services and facilities. The township maintains about 500 acres of park land and the Orion Center and Wildwood Amphitheater.