A number of residents have been receiving fliers on their mailboxes recommending voting ‘no’ on the upcoming Parks millage. These fliers have no identification on them as to who generated the flier. However, they have been included with campaign fliers from several Parks and Recreation candidates.
It is a criminal offense under the Michigan Campaign Finance Act (as quoted below) to distribute election material without identifying who paid for it.
MICHIGAN CAMPAIGN FINANCE ACT (EXCERPT)
Act 388 of 1976
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this subsection and subject to subsections (3) and (4), a billboard, placard, poster, pamphlet, or other printed matter having reference to an election, a candidate, or a ballot question, shall bear upon it an identification that contains the name and address of the person paying for the matter.
(6) A person who knowingly violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000.00, or imprisonment for not more than 93 days, or both.
Several current Parks and Recreation Commissioners felt Township citizens should be provided the facts to offset the false statements claimed on the flier. Here is their fact sheet:
FACT SHEET ON THE PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
- In the 2015 Planning Commission Survey, Parks and Recreation topped the list of positive changes in Oakland Township according to township residents. Oakland Township residents have supported parks millages for over 40 years. Thank you!
- In a 2009 publication of The Trust for Public Land, studies showed that excellent parks can add 15 percent to the value of a nearby dwelling.
- Over the years, the Parks and Recreation Commission has purchased the most valuable natural areas for our parks as determined by a professional land survey IN 1974.
- Wetlands clean our groundwater, provide habitat for fish and wildlife, store floodwater and maintain surface water during dry periods. Wetlands are among the world’s most productive ecosystems, comparable to rainforests or coral reefs. They are neither “unusable” nor just “swamps.”
- According to the 2016 National Recreation and Parks Association Field Report, Oakland Township Parks and Recreation’s annual operating expenditures, based upon the Township’s population, is 14% lower than a typical park agency.
- The real cost of salary and benefits for our PRC is actually only 33% of the revenue provided to the Parks and Recreation Commission, less than half of what parks opponents have alleged.
- Equipment purchased for PRC employees are necessary for parks work. Examples include two-way radios required for the safety of prescribed burn crews and communication at large events, phones for reporting emergencies or using online sources during field work, a golf cart for transporting disabled and elderly residents at events and equipment etc.
- All park properties are open to the public. Federal grants don’t restrict residents from using parks. They do restrict such things as water towers and cellphone towers.
- Of the total 1100 acres of Oakland Township park land, 782 acres could have been otherwise developed as subdivisions. Instead the PRC applied for grants that funded 132 acres, worked with generous land owners who donated 242 acres as well as negotiating purchases of 726 acres.
- Professionals are hired for park design and master planning because of their knowledge of federal, state and local requirements and their expertise on practical as well as aesthetic design issues.
- The Parks and Rec Commission demonstrates prudent budgeting by keeping a fund balance to cover future costs – a strategy used by most sensible families. Since the PRC receives its funding once each year, money must be reserved to cover operations, park improvements, programs and matching funds for potential grants until the revenue is received.
- Legal fees for the 2015/16 PRC fiscal year were 2% of the total budget (Parks and Land Preservation).
- The PRC creates a new Master Plan for the Oakland Township Parks every five years. In the 2015 PRC Master Plan survey, residents responded that the most desired park facilities are walking and biking trails, fitness trails, greenspace, natural areas, and off-leash dog park. The highest interests in recreation included walking, biking, sledding, ice skating, canoeing/kayaking and fishing. All of these are currently part of the OT Parks and Recreation programming.
Information provided by Current PRC Commissioners
Some answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the millage can be seen by clicking:
Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? Having the facts before voting on the millage issue is critical. The three current Parks and Recreation Commission members who have responded to the false information in the flier, as well as Parks Commissioner David Mackley, are recent State award winning Parks Commissioners for their “ongoing and tireless commitment to Parks and Recreation Programs and Services in their communities.” They are all retiring after years of service to our community. Their efforts, and your past support for parks millages, have been responsible for the outstanding Parks System Oakland Township possesses. In order to continue that legacy, they have endorsed the following candidates for the Parks Commission.
Hank Van Agen
NOTE: The campaign information for these candidates was not what was included with the flier mentioned in the first paragraph of this post.