Recount yields two more votes, but tax hike still fails
December 01, 2010 - The numbers changed a little bit, but ultimately the answer was still no.
Following a recount of the Nov. 2 vote on Oxford Township's proposed police tax increase, it was determined Monday by the Oakland County Board of Canvassers that there was, in fact, one additional 'yes' vote and one additional 'no' vote.
That made the official tally 2,886 no-votes to 2,884 yes-votes, meaning the proposal still failed by a margin of just two votes.
"Every vote counts, that's the only thing I can tell you," said township Planning Commissioner Jack Curtis, who requested the recount and paid $120 out of his own pocket to make it happen. "I'm disappointed it still lost."
Prior to the recount, the unofficial tally was 2,885 no-votes to 2,883 yes-votes.
According to county Elections Director Joseph Rozell, the recount yielded two additional votes because in each instance the elector initially marked one oval, then tried to correct their mistake by marking the other oval on the ballot.
"Initially, the machine looks at that and says you voted for both choices, so it's not going to count," he said. "But when we look at it, we can see the voter obviously tried to correct a mistake."
Curtis believes there's a lesson in this for all the voters out there.
"You need to mark your ballot right," he said. "If there's a mistake on it and the guy at the poll tells you your vote is spoiled and you're offered a chance to redo your ballot, take it. Two people didn't take that chance."
"Voters should always take that opportunity to correct their ballot because your vote counts," he added.
Despite his disappointment in the outcome, Curtis was very impressed with everyone involved in the recount process.
"They were so professional," he said. "There's no cheating on the ballots."
Curtis suggested Oxford High School should send students in their government classes to watch a recount.
"It's a real learning experience," he said.
Failure of the proposed five-year, 0.75-mill tax increase means, based on current budget projections, the township is facing the prospect of having to eliminate up to five of the 15 officers that staff its Oakland County Sheriff's substation.
The potential cuts are due to the fact that the taxable values for properties have steadily declined over the last few years and are continuing to do so, resulting in less revenue.
Despite the failure of the police millage increase, Curtis remains optimistic.
"I'm confident that Supervisor (Bill) Dunn has got Plan B, C and D," he said. "I think he'll get those (police services the community needs) some way or another."
Although he could not release any specific details at this point, Dunn noted that Undersheriff Mike McCabe will be at the township board's Wednesday, Dec. 8 meeting to pitch a cost-saving proposal regarding police services.
"The county's still working on the numbers, but it looks like we could save a lot of money and not sacrifice the public's safety," Dunn said.
At that same meeting, township officials could also be listening to a proposal from the village to provide police services.
Keith Redlin, a township resident and village police reserve officer, received 4-0 authorization from the village council last week to formally present his policing proposal to the township board.
Under Redlin's proposal, the village police would provide the township with 18 uniformed officers (eight full-time and 10 part-time) plus a full-time records clerk and 12 reserve officers (unpaid volunteers) at a starting cost of $1.76 million.
According to Redlin's calculations, that's a savings of $387,805 over the township's current $2.15 million police budget.
Over five years, Redlin estimated the township could save $2.67 million by contracting with the village for police services.
Right now, the Oxford police department only serves the 1.4-square-mile village.
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.