By Jim Newell
When Orion Township published a public notice in the July 24 issue of The Lake Orion Review announcing its intent to issue $15 million in bonds for a new township hall, residents took notice.
Bill Kelley started a petition on Change.org calling for registered Orion Township voters to sign the petition and force a referendum vote. He has also been circulating hardcopy petitions to put the issue before voters.
“The manner in which the proposed bond was laid out during the course of the meeting wasn’t exactly forthright,” Kelley said. “I really don’t believe we need a $15 million township hall.”
Kelley, an Orion Township resident for nearly 20 years, said “My phone has not quit ringing since (July 30)” with people who call and want to sign the petition or help.
“I believe there needs to be renovations accomplished. I believe there needs to be more space (at township hall), considering how the township has grown. But the reality is $15 million (or more) is exorbitant,” he said.
In order to do so, Kelley and supporters would need to collect signatures from 10 percent of the registered electorate, which stood 2,819.
There were 28,190 registered voters in Orion Township as of July 29, said township Clerk Penny Shults.
The public notice states that the township “intends to issue and sell its general obligation limited tax bonds…not to exceed Fifteen Million Dollars ($15,000,000), in one or more series, for the purpose of paying all or part of the cost of acquiring, constructing, furnishing and equipping a new Township Hall Facility…”
The township board approved 6-1 during its July 15 meeting to go forward with the notification process to issue the bonds. Clerk Penny Shults was the lone nay vote.
Kelley and his supporters believe that any debt of this size should include a vote by residents and property owners within the township.
“My largest concern is proper stewardship, and I really don’t believe that we need a building the size they’ve proposed,” Kelley said, adding that the current township hall should be reconfigured and expanded.
On Friday, Kelley said he had already collected more than 1,000 signatures and hoped to reach the required number of signatures by the township board meeting on Monday.
“I absolutely believe, based on the number of phone calls I’ve received and the number of volunteers I’ve received that we will have close to the number of signatures we need by Monday,” Kelley said. “I’ve handed out approximately two reams of paper, so far.”
As for those people who have signed the online petition, Kelley said he sent out a bulk email telling them when and where they could sign a hardcopy petition.