Voters in the Saline Area Schools – those who haven’t already voted by absentee ballot – head for the ballot boxes Tuesday to decide several local and county-wide proposals.
In the City of Saline, they’ll elect three members to the town council. That decision was predetermined when only three candidates filed to run for the two-year seats.
As editor of The Saline Post, I offer the following thoughts and endorsements on the local election:
Saline City Council
Linda TerHaar, Heidi McClelland and John (Jack) Ceo are the only candidates for the three open positions on council. All three are incumbents. It’s disappointing there isn’t more interest in these positions. It’s also a little disconcerting to see the three candidates seemingly running a joint campaign. While one appreciates elected leaders who can cooperate, independence is another virtue. The message to anyone thinking about running is this: You can run against us, but you’re running against a united front of incumbents.
That said, all three candidates have served this city well and would be worthy of your consideration even if there was opposition. All bring different things to the table. TerHaar is an environmentalist, an advocate for public transportation and, more recently, is one of the council members responsible for the non-discrimination ordinance. She’s also shown the ability to help council step back and look at the big picture on some of the challenging issues.
Ceo, a long-time officer and leader in law-enforcement, obviously brings important knowledge of the profession to the council table. Providing police services is one of the city’s most costly and important services. Ceo’s knowledge is valuable. At the council table, Ceo quickly finds the crux of an issue and takes a strong stand. He’s broken several long-winded and aimless council discussions using this skill to quickly frame an issue in black and white terms.
TerHaar and Ceo are two of Mayor Brian Marl’s best allies on council.
While TerHaar and Ceo are retired, McClelland is a business owner with children in Saline schools. It’s an important perspective and demographic that’s under-represented on city council. McClelland is not an ideologue. She works to find compromises, as seen on the Peoples Park parking lot issue.
It may sound trite to say in a race with no opposition, but all three candidates deserve your vote.
Saline Sinking Fund Millage
The first of two local millage proposals on the ballot is the Saline Area Schools Sinking Fund Millage. Because the millage is being reset to its original level at .35 mills it is for all intents and purposes, a renewal. The 10-year millage would be in effect from 2018-2027.
Money can be used for construction or repair of school buildings, security improvements, and the acquisition or upgrading of technology.
It’s a worthwhile millage that helps the district keep money in the classroom. The relaxed sinking fund spending rules are also a positive for the district. Instead of spending bond money on computers and devices that will be obsolete 10+ years before the bond is paid off, the district would have an annual source of revenue that could be spent on technology if the millage is passed.
Vote YES on the sinking fund millage.
Recreation and Playground Millage
This millage is known around Saline as the CARES millage. Though presented by Saline Area Schools, it’s not really a school issue. It’s a community enrichment issue.
The millage supports so many initiatives in the community – the senior center, theatre, dance, music, the arts, recreational and youth athletics. It’s disappointing the school district and city didn’t find a way to collaborate, think big and see if there was a way a bumped-up CARES millage could do more to support the Saline Rec Center – which now serves the entire school district even though only city taxpayers are stuck with subsidizing its operations. Still, the status quo provides much to the community. And given recent tax increases and another county-wide tax increase on the ballot, perhaps now was not the time to consider raising the CARES millage.
The Saline community is served well by an affordable senior center, accessible and affordable theatre spaces, a robust offering of enrichment courses offered by Community Education, and the programs bolstered by CARES grants every year.
Like the sinking fund millage, this is basically a renewal, with the district resetting the millage at .5 mills for 10 years, from 2018 to 2027.
Vote YES on the recreation and playgrounds millage.
There are other millages on the ballot, including a proposal to renew the special education millage of .9719 mills for eight years. The county-wide millage will generate about $1 million annually for the Saline school district.
Voters will also consider a new 1-mill levy for Washtenaw County Community Health and public safety preservation. This millage will raise about $5.7 million for Washtenaw County Community Mental Health, which has experienced a nearly $4 million funding cut from the state since 2014. Another $5.7 million will go to the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office. The remaining funds will be divided among communities that have their own police agencies. Pittsfield Township would receive about $680,000 and the City of Saline would receive about $162,000.
What do you think? Tell us in comments below.