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OK renewals, but hold line on increases

July 28, 2010 - We're all making do with less, even government. Or it should. The primary election next week, Aug. 3, is a chance to make them.

Voters face a plethora of millage proposals. Independence Township residents have three local requests: police renewal, police increase, and library renewal. Springfield Township voters have a parks millage proposal. Clarkston residents, a general millage increase. Everyone also has two Oakland County millage renewals, for Oakland Community College and county parks.

The renewals serve as referendums. If you like the Independence Township Library, the local community college, and county park system, vote to continue funding them.

Independence Township Library is a jewel, with a comprehensive collection of books and services. We recommend its renewal. It's reasonable, especially considering revenue is falling along with property values. As with us all, it must make do with less.

Springfield Township Park Millage doesn't ask for much, but it's a new tax. This isn't the time for that, even for something as deserving as our natural areas. With its world-renowned fen and headwaters, find the resources needed to fund it without raising taxes. Turn it down.

Regarding Independence Township sheriff service, we recommend voting for the renewal. As a dedicated millage (except for Sashabaw Road business sending 1.17 percent to their Corridor Improvement Authority), the money will go where it's supposed to.

Closing the local substation, which officials say would happen if the proposals are rejected, would create new problems. Those who go that route can end up fighting over whatever police protection is left, as happened recently in Groveland and Brandon townships.

Turn down the increase, however. Find another way to fund the substation.

The Clarkston ballot proposal is sold as a way to save the police department. But it's not a dedicated police millage. It's a charter amendment, increasing the maximum tax allowed from 15 to 20 mills.

So this is an issue of trust. Would city council use funds for police as it says? Or is it using public safety as a tool to push through a tax increase? We've heard from residents saying taxes are too high in Clarkston. This would make it worse, increasing city taxes by more than a third.

It is not a reasonable solution. City residents are taxed enough already.

Defeat the proposal, but then save the police department anyway. Look at the budget and cut across the board – $128,230 for city hall operations seems high, with $3,600 for office supplies, according to the 2010 budget expense reports. More than two-thirds of police expenses are for personnel, so this will mean cutting some officers.

These are tough decisions for tough times. Raising taxes is the easy way out for government leaders, and would bring more money when property values eventually improve – we wouldn't get a vote on that, though.

That's not the way things work for taxpayers, and it shouldn't work that way for government, either. –PMC

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