October 26, 2013 | Vol. 94, No. 252

Vote 'no' on Headlee override

To the Editor:

To the citizens of Bessemer, I urge you to vote against the override of the Headlee Amendment. The Headlee Amendment was passed in 1979 by a vote of the citizens of the entire state of Michigan to provide some control over what had been, up to that point, the runaway imposition of increased property taxes.

The amendment mandated that as a municipality grew in property values, a formula was used to decrease the millage that the municipality could impose on its citizens, thereby maintaining at least some control on the amount of property taxes a municipality could collect from its citizens.

What the city of Bessemer is asking you to do is override that system of property tax control and give them (the city council) the authority to impose up to 20 mills, or stated in another way, $20 per $1,000 of property values. This is what the city charter says is the maximum amount that the city of Bessemer can levy on its citizens at this time.

If the override of the Headlee Amendment is successful and then the city fathers decide to go back and change the charter to increase the maximum millage from 20 mills to say 30 mills or whatever, the Headlee Amendment is no longer a problem to them because you have given them the authority to do what they want. The Headlee Amendment no longer exists.

The idea that you need trust in your elected officials not to levy the full millage amount is fine, but at a time when there was that kind of trust, what happened? The Headlee Amendment, along with proposal A, had to be passed. Why? That apparent trust was broken because it became easier for city fathers to levy additional millage on increased values to raise more money than it was for them to look at other alternative options to provide services at a more economical rate.

Vote “no” on the Headlee Amendment override. Keep the taxpayer controls in place.

Raymond Brown

Bessemer