For nearly a decade officials in Dexter have been in the process of making the switch from a village to become a city. Voters get a final say in November. Some see it as an opportunity, while others are concerned with what could be lost.
Dexter Village President Shawn Keough says the city charter vote is an opportunity to have a more efficient form of government and do so at a lower cost. The changes he highlights are taking over elections and assessing properties. These duties are currently handled by Scio and Webster Townships. Keough says village residents are paying about $200,000 a year in taxes more than what it would cost for the city to perform the same functions. It also streamlines property assessment appeals. "Right now the village is not directly involved in that process. We're not even directly notified by the state when that appeal happens because the townships are supposed to look out for us on that end, and often times we would be better served if we were, you know, directly notified," Keough says.
For James Smith, becoming a city doesn't look like an opportunity, but a weakening of the connection to the larger community. Smith is Co-Chair of The Committee to Keep Dexter A Village. He served on the city charter commission and has been involved in the cityhood process for years. Smith says he's been trying to find significant enough benefits to be worth becoming a city. A smaller tax bill isn't enough. "I feel that the little bit I pay in taxes to the township to me it's worth that to be able to have that voice. So I know I can go and speak in front of their board as a voter and as a taxpayer," Smith says.
Smith doesn't believe anything will happen overnight if Dexter becomes a city, but fears that future councils may take additional authority that isn't available to villages.
Voters decide November 4th if they want to remain a village or become a city.