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Millage renewal passes, but omitted from ballot in Hadley

November 07, 2012 - A handful of voters in Hadley Township may feel a little left out after Tuesday's election.

Brandon School District residents that reside in Hadley Township should have had the opportunity to vote on a proposal to renew the operating millage proposal for the district. According to the Oakland County Clerk's Office, 13,252 registered voters live in the Brandon School District. Of those voters, 382, or about 2 percent, live in Hadley Township.

However, the ballot question was omitted for those in Hadley Township who are part of the Brandon District.

Theresa Spencer, Lapeer County clerk, realized the language for the Brandon School District non-homestead millage renewal was not on the paper ballot on Nov.5—about 15 hours before the polls opened.

"I knew it was too late on Monday night," said Spencer. "By Aug. 23 we should receive the information from the other counties when a school district dips into the county, like in the case of Brandon (schools). It was a shock to me. I've never had this happen to me before. All I received in August was the list of candidates for the November election. The information would have come from an e-mail from the Oakland County Clerk's Office in August."

The operating millage renewal proposal for the Brandon School District was approved without the votes from Hadley Township. According to the Oakland County results, 4,292 voted yes and 3,696 voted no on the proposal—a difference of 596 votes.

The proposal will renew a millage that would have expired with the 2012 tax levy. Since 1995, the state has allowed the district to levy up to 18 mills on non-homesteads—essentially businesses or secondary residences in the community.

The millage was put in place for districts as part of Proposal A, the Headlee Amendment. The district currently levies about 17.9 mills on non homesteads, which represents about $1,678,307 in funding annually. The district was not requesting the full 18 mills.

David Mroz, director of communications for the Oakland County Clerk's Office responded.

"We're confident all parties were notified," said Mroz. "At the end of the day a very small percentage of the Brandon School District residents live in Hadley Township."

"Depending by how much the millage passed, or failed for that matter, would have determined the next action," he said.

"If the millage passed or failed by a number greater than the Hadley Township voter turnout, then nothing happens. That's because the number of voters would not impact the outcome."

A ballot with only the millage proposal would have been mailed out to those voters in Hadley Township in the Brandon School District that voted on Tuesday, he said.

"Not all the 382 registered voters in Hadley Township would receive the special ballot for the proposal renewal," Mroz added.

"The Lapeer County Clerk would be responsible for tabulating those votes," he said. "Ultimately, the county clerk is responsible for the voters in their jurisdiction."

Mroz confirmed, however, the Oakland County Clerk, the Brandon School District, the Lapeer County Clerk and the Hadley Township Clerk are all involved in the ballot in some way.

On Wednesday following the election, Brandon Superintendent Lorrie McMahon was unaware of the missing proposal.

"Our school attorney writes the ballot language, we approve it and then it's sent to the Oakland County Clerk to be placed on the ballot. We have never contacted any other county other than Oakland."

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