Public safety, school bond issues go down in flames


TRI-CITY AREA — There was very little doubt, if any, how voters felt in the Tri-City Times coverage area regarding last week’s elections.

Following the February 27 outcomes in both Imlay City and Almont, voters came out in strong numbers and made it clear, their vote was NO.

In Imlay City, voters were being asked to consider the formation of a public safety department where the police and fire departments would operate under one umbrella.

Meanwhile, in Almont, a very divided and controversial legion of voters cast their feelings about the school district’s request for a $58.4 million bond issue.

In both instances, the answer was NO.

The City of Imlay City Precinct 1 has 1,118 registered voters of which 288 (25.76%) went to the polls. The proposal received 67 yes votes to 216 no votes.

In Precinct 2, there are 1,571 registered voters with 376 (23.93%) choosing to go to the polls, casting 82 yes votes to 367 no votes.

The proposal, which if successful, would have allowed for the hiring of additional officers for the police department and allowed the part-time fire chief to become full-time, was defeated by a count of 149 yes votes to 501 no votes.

“It’s disappointing, but the community has spoken and we move on. We are not going anywhere or going to fold up shop,” said police Chief Brett Selby,

“The needs aren’t going anywhere. We still need officers, we still need two patrol cars. We’ll try to work with what is there in the budget. But the need is not going away. It needs to be addressed.”

Craig Horton, Imlay City Manager stated, “The Police Chief and Fire Chief continue to work very hard to make their Public Safety Departments the best they can be and provide the services that will continue to keep Imlay City residents safe as the city continues to grow and move forward. The public felt that with the economy the way is right now, with inflation and the cost of services impacting their household budgets on a daily basis, that they just couldn’t afford the cost of a special millage at this time.

The City is in the budget preparation process for 2024/2025 as we speak. The Public Safety Departments have heard the public’s voice and will make adjustments to their budgets to minimize the impact to the safety of our residents.”

In Almont, the school bond issue was a hot topic and the basis for numerous contentious meetings prior to the election.

The proposal would have provided additional classroom space, countless upgrades that are badly needed and the improvements to many areas of the athletic program, including a new facility.

Despite a strong campaign where district officials presented the plan to the public, it was soundly rejected.

Almont Superintendent Kimberly VonHiltmayer released the following statement, following the results.

“We, at Almont Community Schools, wish to address the recent outcome of the school bond proposal. While the result may not have aligned with our immediate goals, we remain steadfast in our commitment to the future of our school community. The support and engagement demonstrated throughout this process are testament to the shared dedication to enhancing the educational experience for our students. Though the proposal did not pass this time, it has provided invaluable insights into the needs and aspirations of our community. We are committed to using this outcome as an opportunity for reflection and growth. Moving forward, we will continue to collaborate closely with the Board of Education, community leaders, and stakeholders to reassess our approach and develop a revised proposal that addresses our district’s priorities. Our commitment to providing the best possible educational environment for our students remains unwavering. Together, we will navigate this challenge and emerge even stronger and more united than before. Again, we extend our heartfelt appreciation to everyone who participated in this process and look forward to working together as we begin the next phase of our journey to secure educational excellence.”

The tally sheet in the Almont district showed in Almont Township, Precinct 1 had 2,481 registered voters with 1,072 (43.21%) turning out to vote.

The count in Precinct 1 was 245 yes to 740 no. In Almont Township, Precinct 2, there were 3,180 registered voters at the time of the election with 1,569 (49.34%) going to the polls. The count was 382 yes to 1,140 no.

In Dryden Township, Precinct 1 has 4,230 registered voters with 1,506 (35.60%) turning out to cast 44 yes votes and 107 no votes.

In the Presidential race, Tri-City Times area voters gave strong support to Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Joseph Biden.

Republican Nikki Haley also drew mild interest from area voters. Trump drew just under 4,500 votes from local voters while Nikki Haley had 786 votes.