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Police millage request on ballot

'Most important millage voters have had in more than 20 years'

July 30, 2014 - Brandon Twp.- Voters on Tuesday will decide whether the township retains police services from the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.

A yes vote on the request for 4.25 mills will keep 10.5 OCSO deputies contracted to patrol the township for the next five years, and will also keep the OCSO substation, located in downtown Ortonville. A no vote would mean the issue could be placed again on the November ballot, and if it failed then, OCSO police services would end in December, since the current millage expired at the end of 2013 and there would be no funding for police.

The 4.25 mills is a quarter mill increase from what voters approved in 1992.

"I think it's a very good deal," said Bob McArthur, village resident, former fire chief, and police millage committee member. "A quarter of a mill is not asking too much at all, it's a good deal for the community. The services we get from the county has expanded and improved since 1992."

Voters have passed the 4 mill police levy five times during the past 40 years; however, concerns were raised in April that 4 mills would not be sufficient to cover police services and build a fund balance. Currently, the board is levying 3.5286 mills for police services, due to Headlee Amendment rollbacks. The current levy, which expired in December, does not generate enough revenue to cover the township's contract with the Oakland County Sheriff's Office for 10.5 deputies and maintenance of the township substation. The township's contract with OCSO has an annual cost of $1,378,984, and is good through 2015. The contract does not cover the cost of overtime for deputies.

For the past few years, board members have been using cable franchise fees of approximately $70,000 annually to supplement the police fund, which they also want to end.

Using an estimate of a 2.25 percent taxable value increase per year, the 4.25 mills, if approved by voters, will garner $1,885,209 in the first year. The millage would be authorized to be levied for five years (2014 through 2018), but board members and McArthur have noted that the township could levy a lower rate after the first year, adjusting for only what is needed to maintain police services.

"The first year the township is required to collect the full 4.25, but every year following, the Headlee Amendment will lower that rate," McArthur said.

The police millage question on township voters' ballots will read:

"Shall the Charter Township of Brandon be authorized to levy up to 4.25 mills for a period of five (5) years, 2014 through 2018 inclusive to finance police protection services? Approval of this proposal would permit a tax of $4.25 per $1,000.00 of taxable value on all taxable property in the township. The previous authorized police millage and police millage increase expired December 31, 2013. It is estimated that this proposal would result in authorization to collect approximately $1,885,209.00 the first year if approved and levied."

OCSO Sgt. Greg Glover, Brandon substation commander, said the request is the most important millage voters have had in more than 20 years. Without passage, not only would the OCSO contract end, but residents would have to rely on the state police for protection. With the nearest state police posts located in Flint and Oak Park, response times would be much longer than the current 6-7 minute average and Glover said local special events the OCSO current patrols, such as Creekfest, Septemberfest, fireworks, and sporting events, would be unpoliced and there would be an increase in criminal activity.

"We need to get back to what we had in the township in 2010, which was 14 deputies, but we don't want to lose the minimal manpower that we have now," said Glover.

"Please come out and vote yes on Aug. 5."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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