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Kudos: Township gives choices, village lowers price



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June 23, 2010 - Boy, the bi-weekly Local Leadership Love Fest isn't going to like my column this week.

I'm actually praising two governments, which is going to leave them with nothing to complain and snipe about behind my back.

Let's start with the Oxford Township Board.

Kudos to them for dividing their police millage request into two parts a renewal and an increase.

See Page 1 for the story.

Rather than trying to ram a tax increase down people's throats with an all-or-nothing millage request, township officials took the prudent and respectful approach.

If the people want to vote for a straight tax renewal, they can do it.

If the people wish to vote for a renewal plus an increase, they can do that, too.

Imagine that government giving its people choices regarding both the taxes they pay and the level of services they receive.

Could it be only a matter of time before we see the Village of Oxford place its police services on the ballot for voters to decide?

Local versus sheriff? Stay tuned.

I have to hand it to the township board they learned well from the mistakes made by previous township boards, village councils and certain safety authorities which shall remain nameless.

If you truly want to give the people what they want, you give them options. If you're truly interested in their opinion, you give them options. If you truly want some type of millage approved, you give them options.

I also have to compliment the township board for deciding to put the lesser of the two proposed millage increases on the November ballot.

While no tax increase sounds good to me, a 0.75-mill request is a heck of a lot more palatable these days than a 1.37-mill question.

The proposed 1.37-mill request would have been doomed to failure before the ballot was even printed. At least the 0.75-mill request has somewhat of a fighting chance, although it's still going to be a very, very tough sell.

But that's for the voters to decide.

Now over to the Village of Oxford.

I have to compliment the village for taking my advice and cutting the price of their dispatch proposal by 43.5 percent. See story on Page 4.

It was the smart thing to do. It was the right thing to do. It was the only thing to do.

Granted, even when you add in the monthly phone line charge from AT&T, the village price is still roughly $2,500 to $2,900 higher than the county's.

However, by drastically reducing its price, the village has at least given its dispatch system a fighting chance against the county.

Which way will the township board go?

Frankly, it's too close to call.

Oakland County made a fantastic presentation. Very professional. Extremely polished. I have to hand it to sheriff's Communications Chief Mel Maier and his crew. Their presentation was thorough, comprehensive and straight to the point.

The village's presentation was . . . well, if you're fan of low-talking, mumbling and imaginary numbers, it was spectacular.

The biggest thing the village has going for it is the fact it's been providing contracted fire/EMS dispatch services to the township since 2000 with no complaints (other than the exorbitant price).

In 10 years, I've never had a citizen come up to me bad-mouthing village dispatch as far as service goes. In fact, I've heard a few compliments.

I've made no secret about the fact that if I had my way, the Village of Oxford, as a political entity, would be dissolved. I firmly believe one day that will happen.

But for now, I think the township should probably stick with village dispatch because the new price is right, the service is good and the employees are primarily Oxford area residents who deliver a personal touch.

The township can make the switch to county when either A) the village raises its dispatch price; B) the voters get rid of the police department; or C) the voters get rid of the village government, period.

I'm rooting for option C.

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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