March 12 2024

Finance Committee Delivers Final Report to Council

Watch Finance Review Committee Chair Quinn Zeagler's City Council Presentation
Following five months of meetings and intensive study, the resident-led Finance Review Committee presented their final report at the regular City Council meeting on March 11, 2024.

The Committee—established in 2023 with ten resident-members appointed by Mayor Melanie Piana—studied the City’s Headlee override millage and how its 2025 expiration would impact general operations and a proposed long-term facilities prioritization plan.

“As Ferndale residents who have spent months, and hundreds of hours, studying this issue, we recommend that City Council consider a Headlee override millage to reset the City to its Charter amount for the November 2024 General Election,” said Chair Quinn Zeagler, as she presented on behalf of the Committee.

To reach a consensus decision, the Committee met weekly-to-biweekly between August 2023 and February 2024. They toured facilities; met with experts from Oakland County's Equalization and Assessing Offices; and thoroughly studied budgets, Proposal A and the Headlee Amendment, economic data, community survey results, past restructuring scenarios, and more.

While the Committee considered a number of scenarios, Zeagler said they looked primarily at three options: no renewal of the override, renewal of the override that maintains approximately the same millage amount as now, and resetting the millage to the Charter amount of 20 mills.

“When we look at residents’ responses to the Cobalt Community Survey, priorities become clear,” Zeagler said. “Ferndale residents want a vibrant business district, recreation for all generations, responsive public safety, special events, and urban greenspaces… these services are the core of what residents love about our city. We came to our recommendation because it meets resident expectations of what it’s like to live in Ferndale.”

When asked about the impact to taxpayers, Zeagler explained that the current Headlee override accounts for just 2.2-8.6% of the total mills paid on residents’ current tax bills. “The remainder of the charges—the other 90%-plus—are unrelated to Headlee and will not change as a result of any decision to expire or renew the current override,” she said.

City Council accepted the report and thanked Zeagler and the other nine Committee members for their service and diligence to the process.

“I can’t thank you enough for your hard work, your time, your energy, and your dedication to our city,” said Councilman Greg Pawlica. “You all took this task very seriously, you weren’t afraid to ask the hard questions, and it shows in your report.”

Watch the Presentation

Zeagler and the Committee were lauded for their presentation, which used strong, simple language and delivered streamlined messaging about the complex subjects of municipal finance and State tax law. The video is recommended viewing for all residents. 

Read the Report

The Committee's final report is available for reading and download online. If you prefer a print version, please complete the request form and a staff member will deliver you a copy. 

Learn More

All Finance Committee meeting recordings, agendas, minutes, and studied data and support materials are available online