Village council approves special assessment district for capital improvement projects

By Megan Kelley
Staff Writer
LAKE ORION — At its regular meeting on Monday, the Lake Orion Village Council approved a new special assessment policy by a vote of 4-3.

Councilmembers Ken Van Portfliet, Nancy Moshier and Michael Lamb voted against the proposal, while council President Jerry Narsh, Council President Pro-tem Teresa Rutt and Councilmembers Carl Cyrowski and Stan Ford voted in favor of the district.

“It is important that we adopt a policy on special assessments because, as you know, we are getting ready to undertake capital improvement planning and special assessments are going to have to be a consideration as we look for funding sources for completing some of these improvements,” said village Manager Darwin McClary. “It’s important that we have a policy in place that will provide us with that guidance as we move along in the planning process. It’s also important to have a written policy so we are fair, uniform and consistent on how we apply the cost of public improvements against benefiting properties and our taxpayers. I know that I sound like a broken record in that I keep pushing you guys to move forward on this but it really is important that we get something in place pretty soon.”

The village council currently has a special meeting to discuss the capital improvement plan on July 24 before their regular meeting.

Lamb and Moshier have both maintained strong stances against special assessments, saying that the village already receives money for these improvements through property taxes that have been misused by the village for years.

However, McClary maintained that the general operating tax levy is not intended to replace Act 51 street funding and grants or donations to fund all of the village’s capital improvement needs.

One of the reasons McClary believes special assessments are the right route is because it is the fairest way to fund improvement projects.

“One of the beauties of special assessments is that no one is exempt from special assessments. If we utilize our tax dollars like has been proposed, we have a number of entities that are tax exempt; governmental units are tax exempt, churches, non profits, many of those are tax exempt. No one is exempt from special assessments, which means that our churches, our schools, the village government, other governmental units that may own property in the village would be subject to the same special assessments that we are expecting our residents and commercial properties to pay,” McClary said. “It is the fairest way to allocate cost for public improvements.”

One of the more pressing concerns was what percentage the special assessment district (SAD) would be assessed for various projects. The policy states specific percentages for streets, sidewalks, drainage improvements, etc., but does not specify the percentage at which public parking lots and other public improvements would be assessed at. Instead, public improvements will be assessed on a “case-to-case basis”, which was something some residents and Van Portfliet raised concerns about.

“I was looking to find some kind of formula for the SAD assessments, the 50 (percent), the 75 (percent) the 90 (percent) and the formula for the public parking lots and other public improvements. I’m not necessarily against the question of SADs, but I don’t think that the information for the proposal at this time is complete,” Van Portfliet said. “I look at this as a tool in the toolbox but the capital improvement plan we are working on, and we’re assembling the tools prior to beginning the project.”

The Lake Orion Village Council meets regularly at 7:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Mondays of the month at Village Hall, 21 E. Church St. Agendas and council packets are available online at

2 responses to “Village council approves special assessment district for capital improvement projects”

  1. (my thoughts,) hire a GOOD BAND and man the “FOR SALE” boats/signs, forget the “WHERE LIVING IS A VACATION” nonsense welcoming sign at each end of the Village limits, BIG MONEY and the DDS are having new ones made up. I still would like to know WHAT the extra 2.5m added to the BOND issue (it started at 2.4m) is going to be USED for by the DDA and WHAT are the DDA’S brounderies???? in the Village (SIZE / AREA) as in 1, 2, 3, 4, blocks?, from here to there or there to here, and the DOWN TOWN area of the Village that use close to a million bucks a year and have IMPROVEMENTS showing.

  2. Is this a special assessment district, as stated in the heading, or a special assessment policy as stated in the text? Those are two very different things.
    As correctly stated by councilmember Van Portfleit, we have no idea how any of this will be imposed on the public or private entities, and what it will end up costing us, so what does this new policy actually do?
    The Village Manager told the council and public this was needed during the budget approval process, then processed the $5 million bond for the DDA, and then immediately came back saying the village needs more money.
    I do hope everyone takes off their rose colored glasses, reads what is going on with our village government, and the cost to live in the Village of Lake Orion.

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