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Brandon Township taxes remain unchanged overall



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September 22, 2010 - Brandon Twp.- With the exception of a slight increase in the library debt millage, residents will pay the same tax rates next year as they did this year.

The township board voted 4-2 at the Sept. 20 board meeting to keep the general fund, police, and fire millage rates unchanged, and to raise the library debt millage rate to .75 from the current .65 mills levied. Treasurer Terry Beltramo and Trustees Bob DeWitt, Cheryl Gault and David King voted yes. Supervisor Kathy Thurman and Clerk Jeannie McCreery voted no. Trustee Tom Stowell was absent.

The library debt millage rate increase is necessary to cover a lack of revenue from the decrease in property values, agreed the boardmembers. The board's division arose over the police millage.

"I was in agreement with keeping all millage rates the same, except for the police millage, because we are anticipating a 27 percent shortfall in funding to the police department over the next three years," said Thurman. "I thought a small increase now would help us not have to come to the taxpayers to ask for an additional millage increase to support the police department in 2012."

Thurman and McCreery wanted to increase the police mills levied from the current 3.25 to the maximum allowable rate of 3.5286, which over the course of the next three years would save police officer positions. The rate increase would cost a resident with an assessed home value of $100,000 an additional $28 per year.

The township board is facing a budget shortfall of roughly $500,000 over the next three years and has been having budget workshops all year to determine where cuts can be made and how revenue can be increased. A township fiscal priorities survey this summer was returned by roughly 800 residents, with a majority responding that police and fire services were of utmost importance. However, a majority of respondents also said they would not support an increase in taxes.

The township board voted earlier this year to eliminate two police positions— the school liaison officer and the deputy I desk officer.

"Being that we're cutting now, wouldn't it behoove us to raise the mills now to save positions?" asked OCSO Sergeant and Substation Commander Pete Burkett, addressing the board at Monday's meeting. "Wouldn't it be smarter to raise (the rate) now than ask for more in 2012? We're already down to 11 deputies including myself. We're already overloaded and to go lower, we're looking at the safety factor for my deputies and the people of this township."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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