I am writing in response to last week’s letter to the editor written by Cory Johnston.
First, Mr. Johnston accurately points out that “the only issue on the Nov. 7 ballot…” is the DDA TIF vote. Yes, it is the only issue on the ballot, and I’m dismayed that we are holding a standalone election for one single ballot proposal. What an inefficient use of taxpayer funds!
By holding a standalone election for a single issue, we are, in essence, squandering taxpayer funds that could be put to better use addressing community needs.
By not waiting for a more comprehensive election, such as a Presidential Primary, we are missing an opportunity to engage more residents in the decision-making process. A higher voter turnout would better reflect the collective will of the community.
Second, Mr. Johnston claims that the TIF (Tax Increment Finance funds) are given to the “DDA to do with as they wish.”
This is a completely false claim. The DDA is held accountable to the public by a TIF Development Plan. This plan was presented to the duly elected village council and adopted by them on Jan. 13, 2020.
It is then the responsibility of an appointed DDA Board of Directors to implement. The DDA Board includes property owners, residents, representatives from the village council, representatives from Orion Township and business owners, ensuring that each segment of stakeholders has a voice.
Mr. Johnston also claims that “we have no control of” how the money is spent. This brings me back to the TIF Development Plan. This plan came about through numerous public engagement opportunities. A public engagement program was implemented to ensure the capture of residents’, property owners’, businesses’ and other invested stakeholders’ vision for downtown Lake Orion were represented. Transparent public engagement was a key focus and included a community-wide survey, a strategic planning event, numerous stakeholders focus groups, a library presentation and public DDA meetings and presentations, all held in accordance with the Open Meetings Act.
All DDA meetings are public, open to anyone interested, and are televised. All meeting agendas and supporting documents are public information and are posted on the Village of Lake Orion website for all to see. There is complete transparency and a multitude of ways that individuals can have a voice and participate, including DDA committees that anyone can join.
I urge anyone interested to get involved and I urge everyone to vote no on the Nov. 7 ballot proposal that seeks to defund the Lake Orion DDA.