State denies Farmington Hills fall ballot question language

Farmington Hills voters won’t have to decide in November whether to approve a new city-wide assessment for street repairs, but officials may put the question on a future ballot.

The Farmington Observer reports that the state attorney general’s office has denied the ballot proposal language, because of a proposed exemption for homeowners who are already paying a special assessment for their subdivision road repairs.

The ballot question asked for a 2.5 mill levy that would raise about $7.5 million annually for road repairs.

Officials shifted in 2014 from a program that required residents to petition for road repairs, to one in which the city determines projects based on a pavement rating system. Under its charter, the city is limited to paying no more than 20 percent of construction costs, with residents assessed 80 percent.

The petition process, officials said, led to divided neighborhoods and, in some cases, severely deteriorated roads. However, the new directed Special Assessment District (SAD) process also caused its fair share of problems.

Independence Commons residents petitioned the Michigan Tax Tribunal in 2016 when a directed SAD added roughly $19,000 to their tax bills. City officials then sued residents to force payment; an Oakland County judge dismissed that case in May.

Read the full Observer story: State rejects ballot language on $7.5 million road tax proposal 

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly identified the subdivision involved in petitions and the directed SAD lawsuit. It was Independence Commons.