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Voters OK police millage



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August 06, 2014 - Brandon Twp.- Voters approved a 4.25 millage at the polls on Tuesday that will keep police services provided by the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.

The police millage passed with 1,480 'yes' votes, or about 65 percent, to 781 'no' votes, 35 percent.

"I was surprised there were that many nos, but I understand it because I know there are people tired of tax increases," said OCSO Sgt. Greg Glover, Brandon substation commander. "We're ecstatic that the residents passed the millage to keep us here."

Township Elections Coordinator Karen McArthur said she was not surprised by the vote percentages, as she believes voters were confused by the statewide proposal 1, which passed and will reduce state use tax, replacing with a local community stabilization share. The approved amendatory act requires a local community stabilization authority to provide revenue to local governments dedicated for local purposes, including police safety, fire protection, and ambulance emergency services, among other measures.

"I think voters thought if the statewide proposal 1 passed, it would cover the township's police, but that proposal will not take care of police coverage for Brandon Township at all," said McArthur. "The two are totally unrelated."

The passage of the 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 in downtown Ortonville.

The millage is a quarter mill more than what voters approved in 1992. Township officials decided to ask for the increase after concerns were raised in April that 4 mills would not be sufficient to cover police services and build a fund balance. The most recent levy, which expired in December, was 3.5286 mills for police services, due to Headlee Amendment rollbacks. The levy does not generate enough revenue to cover the township's OCSO contract, which has an annual cost of $1,378,984, and is good through 2015. The contract does not cover the cost of overtime for deputies. Due to this shortage, for the past few years, cable franchise fess of about $70,000 annually were used to supplement the police fund.

Using an estimate of a 2.25 percent taxable value increase per year, the 4.25 mills approved by voters, will garner $1,885,209 in the first year. Township officials could levy a lower rate after the first year, adjusting for only what is needed to maintain police services.

Glover said the millage voters passed will keep Brandon at minimum OCSO staffing levels, with two patrol cars in the township per shift, which on a lot of day is not enough. He is hopeful that down the road, township voters may pass another millage to add more OCSO deputies in the township— optimally, at least three patrol cars per shift, but was grateful for the millage voters passed.

"On behalf of the sheriff's office, we appreciate the support," Glover said. "Thank you."

The township had about 20 percent voter turnout, which McArthur said was slightly lower than average for the township for a primary election, but still above the county's turnout of about 15 percent of registered voters.

Locally, Brad Jacobsen defeated John Reilly to be the Republican candidate on the November ballot for representative in the state legislature 46th District, while Bobbie C. Walton defeated Tim Terpening for the Democratic nomination in November for state senator 14th District.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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