Not even a week after the County Operations Millage was passed, promising to "preserve all county services", the Board of Commissioners voted to ax the Farmland Preservation Board, citing the defeat of the Farmland Preservation millage as evidence that the public does not value farmland preservation.
After it became clear that we would have to go for the operations millage I withdrew from the Farmland campaign. I ended up talking about Farmland Preservation, anyway, because people had so many questions about it. This is how I described these conversations in a letter to my County Commissioner:
I spoke to many people who were conflicted about the Farmland Preservation millage. They supported Farmland Preservation efforts but they thought that the millage was too much and for too long. They had practical questions about how the program would work. They wondered if it could be done cheaper. They wondered about a plan that had been designed before all of the talk about the burst of the "housing bubble". People had good questions, but the Farmland campaign was long on scenery and short on details.I feel used. I don't like putting my time and reputation on the line for people who can't do what they said they were going to do a week ago. And it's amazing to me that the Commissioners didn't hear the same sense of conflict about the Farmland millage that I heard.
I told people that a yes vote on the Operations Millage was supporting the Farmland Preservation Board. If they couldn't support the Farmland Preservation millage, they could still support the preservation effort by voting for the Operations Millage. I told them that the Farmland movement had a lot of momentum, and that if this farmland millage plan was voted down, they would no doubt come up with a more refined (and probably leaner) plan. The Farmland Preservation Board would still be at work, because that was one of the county services that we were saving.
Indeed, that is what we promised, that a yes vote on the Operations Millage would preserve all current county services. With a 90 vote margin, I don't think we can discount any constituency, even farmland preservation proponents.