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Sheriff K-9 stays in Brandon Twp. for now



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September 29, 2010 - Brandon Twp.- The number of police officers here stays at 12 for now, but whether the township can sustain a police force that size remains in grave doubt.

After months of budget workshops to reach concrete decisions on balancing the 2010 budget as well as to plan for budgets for the next three years, uncertainty seemed the order of the day at the most recent budget workshop Monday.

A motion to postpone a vote on elimination of the K-9 deputy failed 4-3. The next motion, to eliminate the K-9 deputy, failed 4-3, with Clerk Jeannie McCreery, Treasurer Terry Beltramo, and Trustees Cheryl Gault and Tom Stowell voting no to eliminating the deputy, and Supervisor Kathy Thurman and Trustees Bob DeWitt and David King voting yes.

Also on the agenda was the elimination of the recreation programmer position and reduction of the deputy treasurer position, but the board voted to postpone those decisions, which were first postponed at the Sept. 20 board meeting.

"I don't think we've completed the budget process to know whether we need to eliminate positions," said Gault during the workshop. "We need to look at healthcare, etc."

Thurman responded, "We are at the point where we need to implement what we've been planning with the workshops."

The township board is struggling with budget cuts amidst declining property values that impacts the ability to fund many services, including police protection, for which the township contracts with the Oakland County Sheriff's Office. The board voted in June to eliminate the school liaison officer and the Deputy I desk officer. Thurman presented various proposals earlier this month regarding police staff. All options included officer cuts, but the number of officers cut and when they would be cut varied depending on whether the board would agree to levy the maximum allowable police millage rate of 3.5286. They didn't agree and by a 4-2 vote on Sept. 20 (McCreery and Thurman voting no), the police millage will remain at 3.25.

"Whatever decision we make about the K-9, we're faced with cutting more deputies down the road and we can't do that," said Stowell Monday.

"I think we should just wait until April to cut another deputy," McCreery said. "We'll see if the economy is easing and not as bad, or if it's trending the same. If it's the same, we have to cut a deputy."

King asked at the workshop when the board could go to voters with a request for a police millage increase. McCreery said the soonest would be 2012, unless the township held a special election, which typically costs around $20,000, or, if the state constitutional convention passes, the township could coattail on that next year.

The next budget workshop, at which employee healthcare benefits will be a topic of discussion, is planned for 6:30 p.m., Oct. 4, at the township offices, 395 Mill St. The regular board meeting begins at 7:30 p.m.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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