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LO gets a deal, Oxford taxpayers get the shaft

January 22, 2014 - Oxford Village taxpayers should feel a special kinship with the Greek mythological character Atlas.

Legend has it that Atlas and his fellow Titan gods rebelled against the younger Olympian gods led by Zeus.

When the Titans lost the war, a vengeful Zeus condemned Atlas to bear the heavens upon his shoulders for eternity.

Although they don't bear the weight of the cosmos on their shoulders, village taxpayers are being crushed by a heavy burden of their own in the form of the police department's dispatch center.

Meanwhile, Lake Orion is getting one heck of a good deal at the expense of village taxpayers. Allow me to explain.

Oxford Township is moving ahead with contracting with the Oakland County Sheriff's Office to handle all of the Oxford Fire Department's calls.

Once that happens, the only thing the Oxford Village dispatcher center will be doing is dispatching calls for the Oxford Village and Lake Orion police departments.

True, it will be receiving all 9-1-1 calls for both villages, but those that pertain to fires and emergency medical services will be transferred to the county for dispatching.

Now, the Oxford Village dispatcher center's operating budget is approximately $270,000.

Lake Orion has agreed to pay Oxford $20,000 this year for dispatch services. That amount will increase by 2 percent in 2015 and 2016.

The rest will be funded by Oxford Village residents out of their annual 10.62-mill property tax bills.

Speaking as a village taxpayer, this isn't fair, not by a long shot. In fact, it flat-out stinks.

The village dispatch center will be providing services for two almost identical municipalities with two almost identical police departments, yet Lake Orion gets to pay $20,000 annually while Oxford is stuck picking up the rest of tab, roughly $250,000.

Anyone who thinks that's a good deal for Oxford is either a con man or a sucker. Unfortunately, government is full of the former and the electorate is full of the latter.

I, for one, am not willing to carry Lake Orion on my shoulders just to maintain the myth that having a local dispatch center actually means something. I work hard for my money and I definitely don't wish to subsidize another community.

I'll say this, Lake Orion is definitely a lot smarter than Oxford. When Orion Township wisely decided to take its fire/EMS dispatch business to the county, Lake Orion knew it could no longer afford to operate its own center.

Instead of trying to find a way to force its taxpayers to continue funding an expensive local system, Lake Orion closed the doors and struck a deal with Oxford to take over. The contract price was deliberately set at $20,000 in order to come in just below the county's quote of $21,632 to dispatch the Lake Orion Police Department.

Isn't that ironic? Oxford Village taxpayers will continue to pay through the nose, so Lake Orion can continue to thumb its nose at Oakland County.

If Oxford and Lake Orion's councils truly believe it's so vital to keep dispatch services local, then Lake Orion should be willing to step up and agree to pay 50 percent of the Oxford center's operating costs. In turn, Oxford should give Lake Orion an equal voice in how dispatch is run.

Anything less is inequitable and unacceptable.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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