March 27, 2013 - Goodrich-The village council voted 4-0 approving a resolution in a special meeting on Monday afternoon to request members of the House of Representatives to vote no on House Bill 4147.
Council President Rick Horton was absent.
On March 13, the House Tax Policy Committee OK'd legislation, HB 4147, that would give local townships the authority to decide how to best pay for police and fire protection.
House Bill 4147, sponsored by State Rep. Joseph Graves (R-Argentine) gives township boards flexibility to choose how they would pay for local police and fire services. Under the legislation, townships would have options of determining their assessments on a per-parcel basis, on the taxable value of the land or premises ad valorem, or on another basis determined by the township board. Current law requires townships to only base special assessments for police and fire on the value of a resident's land. HB 4147 now heads to the full House for consideration
House Bill 4147 has become the focus of Atlas Township residents. In 2006 the township implemented a $50/$25 special assessment to collect for police protection in addition to a 1 mill based on the taxable value of the property. Since that time a local resident has challenged the township special assessment in the Michigan Tax Tribunal Small Claims Division. They judged in the resident's favor from 2006 through 2011.
However, last year both the millage and the special assessment expired, prompting township officials to place on the May 7 ballot 2.1 mills for four years to fund a Genesee County Sheriff con-tract of about $565,000. If approved, a township taxpayer with a $100,000 home would pay about $105 per year.
"Right now, funding for the sheriff's contract is from the township's general fund," said Richard Saroli, village councilman. "But if the millage does not pass this May then it creates a vacuum and leaves the contract with the sheriff's department without funding. The Michigan State Police now has more funding to enforce laws in the community."
Saroli was concerned that if House Bill 4147 passes and the millage fails the community would be vulnerable to the township implementing a special assessment of $200 per home and $100 for unimproved parcels without a vote of the people.
Councilman Pete Morey looked for other alternatives.
"The village is just a mile-and a half," he said. "The Michigan State Police could take care of this if it was needed."
Michigan State Trooper First Lt. Matt Bolger, said coverage would be available in the township and village if necessary.
"We would treat Atlas (Township) like Gaines, Holly, Rose and Groveland townships," he said. "But no trooper would sit in the township or village for that matter. While no trooper would be posted in the community, we would send a trooper to respond to a call."
Bolger said the MSP added five troopers in the fall of 2012 and will add eight more on April 1.
"We have a number of missions including the City of Flint, but northern Oakland County and southern Genesee is also within the area. Keep in mind we are not bound by county lines," he said.
Funding made available as part of Governor Rick Snyder's public safety plan allows for the hiring of 180 troopers in 2012. These additional troopers will help support law enforcement efforts in the state's most violent cities—Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw, as well as underserved areas throughout the state.