ELECTIONS 2022:Yates Township clerk recall, school proposals on May 3 ballot

Voters in Yates will determine if township clerk Romayne Hollis-Raines will stay as clerk or be voted from office. 

Voters in Yates will determine if township clerk Romayne Hollis-Raines will stay as clerk or be voted from office. 

Star photo/Shanna Avery

LAKE COUNTY — Voters in four Lake County townships will be able to make their voices heard at the polls next Tuesday during the May 3 election. Elk, Sweetwater and Lake townships will decide school proposals for their districts, and the voters in Yates Township will determine whether township clerk Romayne Hollis-Raines will continue to serve as clerk in a recall election.

The language of the recall petition reads as follows: “Has not maintained township financial records according to state standards as evident by the June 2021 statutorily required auditor’s report and auditor’s subsequent email to clerk in September 2021. Has not since Dec. 2020, provided other township officials with the materials they need to perform their jobs, this includes not providing board packets on time to board members as required by the township board and administrative policies manual section 2.18 and also not providing requested documents to the planning commission and the ZBA. Has regularly dispersed township funds since Dec. 2020 without prior board approval.”

Hollis-Raines spoke with the Star on the upcoming recall election.

“Back in November is when the recall started. There was a hearing and the election commission approved the recall petition. The information in the recall petition in my opinion is false. There is no proof of any accusations,” Hollis-Raines said, expressing the dissension is from a “small faction” of people in Yates. She feels the contention stems from results of the last November election.

“Things are very contentious, and that is a very sad thing. What we have been doing here is the way its been done in the past. If something is pointed out, it is investigated and fixed. If something is pointed out in audits, it gets fixed," she said. 

"In 10 years, audits show we complied in concordance with county procedures. There’s been no missing moneys, no stolen moneys, no questions on how budgets are prepared. We use Quickbooks, and use what we have. The auditors guide us with what we have. Board members are fighting against board members. Things are being corrected. Special meetings are posted within 24 hours, as soon as possible. Sometimes there is the last minute to change things," she continued.

Hollis-Raines said she feels there’s also discontent on board money not being directed toward certain projects or endeavors.

“We get a certain amount of tax dollars, and that’s what you can spend — hopefully less. We are allotted a certain amount of money in the budget. You don’t always know when it will go over. The budget is based on the average of the past few years. You have to work for everyone in the community, not just a select few. You have to," she said. "This is a concerted effort of just a small group of people, with plans for just around the Idlewild Lake area, which is a small voting block, a small tax-base. In 36 square miles, the other 30-square miles is an important tax base, but people don’t like coming to township meetings because of all the tension.

"There have been different stories with the recall petition. I was told some wouldn’t sign it because they were afraid of backlash from the clerk. What could I do? I don’t have a pull. Some signed the petition, and later expressed they were sorry they did, because of false information." Holis-Raines said. "A lot of these people know me, yet they didn’t come and ask me. It just seems strange to me. I would have called and asked. People you thought were your friends turned out not to be so — that’s hard. It is what it is. It’s in the hands of the people.”

 Deputy Clerk Deborah Walker also spoke on the matter.

“How can a person (Hollis-Raines) be elected three times, even with the elections contended, and now, since Nov. 2020, this came about? It is sour grapes,” she said.

Lake County Clerk Patti Pacola said that in her five years serving as clerk, this is the first recall election she is presiding over. Pacola also will serve the role of Yates Township Clerk for the election, as Hollis-Raines cannot have involvement in it.

Recalls are not a yes or no question. A voter must choose specifically the candidate they wish to vote for. The options for Yates Township Clerk (partial term ending Nov. 20, 2024), are Romayne Hollis-Raines (Democrat) and Barbara McGregory (no party affiliation.)

SCHOOL PROPOSALS

Voters in Sweetwater and Lake townships are asked to vote on the Mason County Central District Bonding Proposal, borrowing the sum of not to exceed $33,635,000 for erecting, furnishing and equipping and re-equipping school facilities; erecting, furnishing and equipping a stadium restroom building, and remodeling, preparing, developing, improving playgrounds, playfields, athletic fields and sites.

The estimated millage levied is 1.95 mills ($1.95 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation. The maximum years the bond may be outstanding is 25 years. The estimated simple average annual millage anticipated to retire this bond debt is 3.77 mills ($3.77 on each $1,000 of taxable value.)

Elk Township voters are asked to weigh in on the Kaleva Norman Dickson School District Operating Millage Proposal to allow the school district to continue to levy the statutory rate of not to exceed 18 mills on all property, except principal residence and other property exempted by law, for the school district to receive its full revenue per pupil foundation allowance and restores millage lost as a result of the reduction required by Michigan Constitution of 1963.

If renewed, the proposal will generate 18.3867 mills ($18.3867 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of five years, 2023 through 2027, and to be increased by .3413 mill ($0.3413 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) in said time.