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Brandon police millage in 2014

July 10, 2013 - Brandon Twp.- Voters will see at least one millage renewal request on their ballots next year, and the township board is examining whether they may also have to seek a millage increase.

The requests for millage renewal and possible increase are both for funding of police. Voters originally approved 4 mills for police operations back in 1992, but due to the Headlee Amendment, which rolled back taxes, the township is only levying 2.8505 mills from that. Because of Headlee, voters approved a second millage of .7689 mills in 1996. That millage has rolled back to .6781. In total, the township now levies 3.5286 mills for police. The millage will expire by the end of this year.

"Next year, we will have to have the police renewal millage on the ballot," said Supervisor Kathy Thurman. "The board will be looking to see if we need to ask for a millage increase at the same time. We haven't researched the issue enough to say at this time."

The township approved last fall a 3-year law enforcement contract with the Oakland County Sheriff's Office for 11.5 deputies (including a shared deputy with Independence Township).

The contract, which covers 2013-2015, has annual increases of 1.6 percent the first year, and 1.7 percent in the second and third years. The township will pay OCSO $1,356,045 in 2013, $1,378,984 in 2014, and $1,402,649 in 2015. Those amounts cover everything that goes along with 10.5 deputies, including salaries, benefits, vehicles, dispatch, etc. The township contracts with 11.5 deputies, but the school district reimburses the township for the cost of one deputy who is assigned to be the school liaison officer.

Prior to budget cuts in 2010, the township had 14 deputies. A 2010 township fiscal priorities survey returned by more than 800 respondents found an overwhelming majority believed that police service is "very important" and 558 respondents disagreed that the police force should be reduced, with only 209 supportive of a decrease in officers. However, respondents were almost evenly split on paying an additional $28 per year in taxes to keep the level of law enforcement unchanged, with 391 favoring an increase in the millage and 382 disapproving.

Thurman said she would like to see the current level of 10.5 township deputies maintained, but also wouldn't mind a small increase in part-time assistance at the Brandon substation, due to a previous cut of the desk deputy.

"Then, too, our half-time position is contingent upon Independence wanting to continue our shared arrangement," Thurman noted. "I don't know how many mills we need to maintain what we have."

There is currently not a carry forward or rainy day fund balance for the police budget, Thurman continued, something else for the board to consider.

The police budget is completely dependent on property tax revenue and with those values declining, the board has supplemented the police budget with cable franchise fees and also directed $20,000 to the police budget from the general fund in 2012.

"If we don't have the renewal, we don't have a police department, unless they want to work for free," Thurman said.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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