August 29 2023

Finance Review Committee Launches; Citizen Appointments Confirmed

At the regular meeting of Ferndale City Council on Aug. 28, Council approved the appointments of nine members to serve on the new citizen-led Finance Review Committee. The Committee will study the impacts of the City’s Headlee override millage and how its 2025 expiration would impact general operations and a proposed long-term facilities prioritization plan.  

The appointment recommendations, made by Mayor Melanie Piana following a six-week application and consideration process, were approved unanimously by City Council. They include: 

  • Quinn Zeagler, Committee Chair 
    Quinn brings experience as a key member of the 2022 Facilities Task Force, Chair of the Ferndale Environmental and Sustainability Commission, and professional experience with facilities and energy efficiency standards.
  • David Hoppe, Committee Vice Chair
    David brings robust experience in finance and taxes, with his current role as the National Tax Director for Valeo North America, and years serving as a certified public accountant. 
  • Kate Baker 
  • Brook Ciambelli 
  • Kimberly Lennex 
  • Jeffrey Loftus 
  • Alvita Lozano 
  • Kyle Savoie 
  • Dale Vigliarolo 
  • Simrit Jhita, Alternate  
  • Greg Pawlica, City Council Liaison

The nine members and one alternate were selected from 27 applicants. Mayor Piana led the selection process, carefully reviewing credentials and conducting interviews with prospective members. Those chosen represent a broad spectrum of life and professional experience—newer to more seasoned homeowners; home renters; experience serving on the Facilities Task Force and attending the City’s civics 101 course, Fern & Learn; and career experience ranging from finance and tax specialists to facilities management and contracting.  

“As always, these kinds of voluntary committee recruitments bring out the exceptional depth of talent in our community,” said City Manager Joseph Gacioch. “This kind of civic engagement and willingness to contribute is what distinguishes Ferndale and sets our community apart.”  

Headlee Override Millage 

The ten-year Headlee override millage was approved by Ferndale voters in 2015 and will expire in December 2025. As part of this year's budget adoption process, City Council discussed assembling a citizen-led committee to study the recommendations presented by the 2022 Facilities Task Force and how to prioritize long-term facilities health with and without a millage renewal. 

The current Headlee override millage brings in about $3.7 million in property tax revenues annually, or approximately 30% of all property tax revenues. This money is used to fund the City’s general expenses; if the millage is not renewed, the City will offset these revenue losses with equivalent budget cuts. That would mean disinvestment in core services like Police, Fire, and Public Works, plus an inability to realize the long-term facilities goals prioritized by the 2022 Resident Task Force on Facilities, including improving public safety facilities and constructing a new recreation building at Martin Rd. Park.   

The Committee’s Role 

The Committee will play a key role in shaping the potential of the City to deliver sustainable progress towards the goals set forth in the Facilities Task Force Report. The Committee will be asked to study and advise on the following questions:  

  1. How might a millage renewal sustain current staffing and service levels​?
  2. How might a non-renewal impact current staffing and service levels​? 
  3. How might a millage renewal impact facilities progress​? 

The impact on cost of living via property tax bill impacts will be part of the backdrop for each question.

Meetings are expected to be held biweekly starting in September and running through January 2024. At the Committee’s conclusion, the group will be asked to create a final report encompassing their recommendations, which is expected to be delivered to City Council in February.  

Meetings will be open to the public. To learn more, or to follow along with the Committee’s work, visit the Finance Review Committee page.