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Township officials eye survey, police cuts, millage increase

June 02, 2010 - Brandon Twp.- Township officials may soon be asking for residents' input as they ponder cuts to services and a potential increase in the amount of mills levied.

During a budget workshop meeting June 2, boardmembers discussed creating a survey to determine what township residents want.

"They (residents) need to participate so we know what they want us to do," said Treasurer Terry Beltramo. "Things are getting worse and worse and we're trying to save services and are running out of ideas. I think they would hang us from the nearest oak tree if we raised all this stuff (police and fire millages)."

Beltramo said other boardmembers have said they believe residents wouldn't mind a tax increase to pay for certain services.

The board has been meeting for several months in an effort to develop a long-term budget plan in difficult economic times amidst decreasing tax revenue and increasing expenses. Officials received more bad news last week when an audit review by Layton & Richardson PC showed that with adjusted entries, the township will have a $38,000 deficit by Dec. 31, the end of the current fiscal year, if they take no action.

Beltramo explained that the township has not received the expected amount of tax revenue and he is trying to pinpoint what else has led to the shortfall. He emphasized that the deficit will be fixed.

The boardmembers were already discussing cuts prior to the audit since revenue is projected to be down for at least the next few years. Police reductions are on the agenda for the next board meeting, set for 7:30 p.m., June 7, at the township offices, 395 Mill St. Boardmembers will vote on whether to cut two deputies, the school liaison position and substation desk officer position, effective July 1.

Also being considered is a potential increase in the amount of mills levied for both police and fire. Beltramo said that currently, 3.25 mills are levied on township taxpayers for police services. The maximum allowable is 3.5286. The fire operating millage is currently levied at 3.2983 and the fire equipment and housing millage is currently levied at .5922 mills.

"The maximum allowable for both is close to 5 mills," said Beltramo. "If all the taxes were raised to what is being considered, it would be just over 1 mill increase total."

Beltramo is opposed to raising the millage to the maximum allowable and stressed the need for the survey to find out what residents want. The survey would likely be posted online and would need to be done soon, he said, as a truth-in-taxation hearing would be in September and any increase would be on the winter tax bills, which are printed in November for distribution in December.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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