November 8, Ballot Proposal 1

Ballot Language for Proposal 1:

Shall the 15 mill limitation on General Ad Valorem taxes within the County of Lenawee imposed under Article IX, Section 6 of the Michigan Constitution be increased by .28 mills ($.28 per $1,000 of taxable value) for a period of four (4) years, 2011 through 2014 inclusive, for the purpose of providing services to promote economic development and job creation in Lenawee County and shall the County levy such millage for the said purpose during such period, which increase shall raise in the first year of levy an estimated $882,964.


  1. All revenue will go to Lenawee County for the purpose of economic development.
  2. All money will serve Lenawee County.
  3. If approved, over the four-year life of this millage, more than $3,500,000 may be removed from the County’s private sector and be put into the hands of government.  This will be in addition to the 15 mill property tax already in effect.
  4. There are no guarantees that any jobs will be created.
  5. Currently, the County hires the non-profit Lenawee Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) to promote economic development within the County.  Funding for this activity has been eliminated from the County’s budget for the 2012 fiscal year.  Look at to learn about LEDC contributors, board members, executives, and activities.
  6. LEDC receives its funding through its contract with Lenawee County, from the business community, from state and federal grants, and from taxpayer-supported government entity contributors (townships, cities, villages, school districts, and other agencies within the County).

Things to think about:

  1. What is the LEDC’s return on investment?
  2. What oversight measures will the County Commissioners use to monitor and     evaluate any economic development efforts?
  3. Considering that it is almost impossible to eliminate any tax once imposed, when and how will those efforts be judged sufficient to terminate the tax?
  4. What are County Commissioners and local governmental units doing to create an economic environment that will be favorable to business expansion?  Reducing taxes?  Eliminating unfavorable regulations?
  5. What will increased property taxes mean to your business’s profit situation?
  6. On what will the money be spent?  Marketing Lenawee County?  Education of potential entrepreneurs?  Helping to fund new business ventures?  Who will make these decisions?
  7. If our economic situation is the most critical aspect of the County’s on-going viability, why aren’t less critical programs being eliminated to permit support of economic development without an additional property tax?
  8. Is it the task of government to promote economic development, or create jobs?


Thanks to the Lenawee 9.12 Forum in Adrian for the above information. An information sheet was made available to Forum participants at the October 13 meeting.

My Questions and Facts:

Did they frame the proposal as a “jobs” initiative because that was the best bet to get a millage increase from the voters?

Steven Malanga is a contributing editor to City Journal and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, which publishes City Journal. His primary area of focus is economic development. In 2005 Mr. Malanga wrote this article about America’s Worst Urban Program. “Urban aid can do little in cities whose own policies are hostile to real economic development, a key reason that the block-grant program has wasted so much money. Like Los Angeles, Buffalo has received huge infusions of federal urban aid—more than half a billion dollars in community-development block-grant money alone in 30 years. If this kind of urban aid truly worked, Buffalo would be a shining star in the economic-development constellation because it has gotten more block-grant money per capita than any other U.S. city.” (Editor’s Note: The November 8 proposal is urban aid under the title of Economic Development.

The Role of Small and Large Businesses in Economic Development by Kelly Edmiston (a senior economist in Community Affairs at the Federal Reserve
Bank of Kansas City. This article is on the bank’s website at, “Increasingly, economic development experts are abandoning traditional approaches to economic development that rely on recruiting large enterprises with tax breaks, financial incentives, and other inducements. Instead, they are relying on building businesses from the ground up and supporting the growth of existing enterprises.

From the Department of You Can’t be Serious, Michael Lafaive writes, “If state economic development programs must exist at all, their success or failure must be reviewed in a way that provides policymakers and others with the credible, reliable information. Developing a dispassionate framework for program reviews and publicizing the results might help citizens come to grips with just how wasteful these programs are.

Last, But Not Least
In an article written by Tom Gantert, there’s this gem about the MEDC. An ‘Expensive Game’ Providing the ‘Illusion of Creating Jobs’ Gantert writes, “In 2008, the newly built Pinnacle Race Course in Huron Township was eligible for more than $48 million in tax incentives over 30 years. The MEDC trumpeted this project as “the beginning of a world-class commercial and industrial complex and transportation hub that will mark the entry of western Wayne County into the global economy.”

But today, county officials say the track has liens on it and has unpaid property taxes for 2009 and 2010. One horse racing organization says it has given more than $1 million to keep it operating.”

If these aren’t valuable arguments for saving our money and focus on what Michigan really needs to do to be an attractive place to do business, the only other thing I can say is; if our government officials and bureaucrats lobbied just as hard to address the root of the problem as they do with separating us with our money, we would have something good. In case you didn’t know, here are a couple of examples how Michigan and Michigan Counties stand in the way of economic development. Commentary: Recommendations for Gov. Snyder’s Liquor Control Advisory Rules Committee and What does the Ave Maria School of Law have to do with a new tax hike?

I recommend not only voting on November 8, but voting NO, we shall not disregard the Michigan Constitution and increase Michigan’s debt ceiling! We want our legislators to stop playing games, focus on the real problems and work within their allotted budget!

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4 Responses to November 8, Ballot Proposal 1

  1. Kathy says:

    The facts and figures for LEDC were obtained from the county administrator under the Freedom of Information Act because the LEDC said they did not have to comply with FOIA. Too bad all tax payers
    couldn’t see this information before they go to vote on Tuesday. Records and information that was provided is for the last 3 years. Three years in a row the Lenawee Intermediate School District gave $15,000 to LEDC! For 2011, under Contributor, it shows $10,000 for annual contract with LEDC and $5,000 contribution. I question what LISD would contract with LEDC and under what authority can they
    give any kind of donation when that money is for schools! Also, the real figures for the employees salary packages were not quoted in the Telegram. Gartin’s salary package is $160,515 and Robinson’s salary package is $114,965. There is other interesting info in this information LEDC had to provide to the county commissioners like how many other tax $ LEDC gets from some townships and villages,etc.

    • Robin says:

      Outstanding Kathy! Your efforts are supremely appreciated. I’d have to question under what authority and why the LISD would contract with the LEDC also. I also wonder under what authority the government thinks it’s their duty to provide jobs. It’s against the Michigan Constitution and the US Constitution.

      Blissfield pays an annual fee of $5,000.00 to LEDC and although I don’t have the numbers, I’m expecting the County pays an annual fee also. I would also like to know how many Michigan Towns, Villages, Cities and Townships also pay and how much. Shame on the Telegram for not printing this information. Paul Heidbreder, publisher of the Telegram and Chairman of the board for LEDC, thinks this is a good deal. Heidbreder says,”The largest taxpayers in the county are supporting Proposal 1 because they know how critical it is to build a vibrant, strong, quality workforce. These companies include Lenawee County’s largest taxpayer, Michigan International Speedway (MIS), along with Anderson Development, Wacker Chemical and many other companies. These firms all will pay more in taxes if this proposal passes than they do in dues now to support the LEDC. Yet they know that they can recruit the best and brightest in an environment where people are working and thriving. They know that people with jobs buy race tickets. I know people with jobs buy subscriptions.

      This is a non-partisan, non-political issue, upon which many who normally have different perspectives … agree. Unions and management are both supporting this proposal. The UAW supports this proposal as do people in management like Blissfield Manufacturing’s owner, Pat Farver. School superintendents support Proposal 1, as does the local MEA.”

      In the Blissfield Advance’s October 26 edition, Reporter James McClenathen states, “Those who support or oppose the millage seem to fall into two categories: those who believe in the LEDC’s efforts to attract jobs and industry to the county, and those who are opposed to any additional taxation.” That assumption isn’t true. Only two paragraphs from the article are dedicated to the point of view/concern over the effectiveness of the millage increase while 15 more paragraphs endorse it. No bias here!

      • Kathy says:

        I am curious as to the term you used “dues”. There is nothing mentioned in any of LEDC documents including the Profit and Loss statement that mentions dues. Everything is called contributions and all are in different amounts, whatever they want to give. Some give a few hundred and some several thousand.
        The most upsetting part is how many times they collect from our taxes. They have collected from Lenawee Headstart and LISD!!! A donation from Madison Schools also! Some of the info is enough
        to make you crazy and there isn’t any way to get all the info out to the people!


        • Robin says:

          Paul Heidbreder called them “dues”, I called them “fees” Blissfield pays a yearly contract or membership fee. You can send me the information and I can upload it on the blog and we can link it to other sources…it is late but some will be able to view it before the election. We can also start an email blitz to Lenawee county residents with the link.

          Just a suggestion, if you’d like to follow through with this plan you can email me from the “Contact Us” page on the menu bar.

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