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Letter to the editor

Clarkston millage's complicated

July 14, 2010 - Dear Editor,

I would like to clarify your article, "City police millage important, chief says," June 30. It is not a "police millage."

While Clarkston City Council unanimously passed a resolution requesting language for a police millage, and made several other requests for this, the ballot language accepted by the council is for increasing the 15 mill charter tax limit, currently 13.1979 mills due to roll backs, to 20 mills for "general municipal purposes."

The words "police" or "law enforcement" do not show up anywhere on the Clarkston ballot issue and the city has made no official commitment to use any approved tax increase for police services.

Taxpayers should know that the 20 mills requested by Clarkston City Council is the maximum allowed by state law and was not determined as the amount required to maintain local police services, but as the maximum they can legally ask for.

To put it simply, this is a request for a tax increase to the maximum amount possible for any purpose.

Another correction is that the cost for contracting sheriff services may not be the $93,000-$98,000 cited in the article.

That would only be true if the current township millage is simply renewed. Independence Township has two millages for law enforcement, Aug. 3. One to renew the existing millage of about two mills, and the other is to increase the existing millage by another mill, for a total of three mills.

If both pass and Clarkston uses this service, the cost would be $140,000-$147,000.

If neither of these ballot issues passes, there will presumably be no law enforcement services in Independence Township and nothing for the Village of Clarkston to contract for. The level and cost of sheriff services is entirely up to the voters and elected officials of Independence Township, per agreement already approved by Clarkston City Council.

The results of that election will have a profound effect on our area, public safety, and how we are perceived by others for both our services and our level of taxation.

We must also all judge if we can afford higher taxes and if we are confident in our elected officials to use that money wisely and for what they stated. There is no guarantee for this so it is a matter of confidence in our officials based on their past performance. I urge everyone to become informed on the issues and vote accordingly.

Cory Johnston


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