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Township police millage to remain unchanged



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August 31, 2011 - Brandon Twp.- Residents will not pay higher taxes for police service this year.

The board unanimously agreed to not increase the 2011 millage rate for police during a budget workshop meeting Aug. 30. Following a public truth-in-taxation hearing Sept. 19, the board will vote instead on keeping the current 3.25 police millage rate. Supervisor Kathy Thurman had previously proposed raising the rate to the maximum that could be levied— 3.5286 mills— amidst fear of a funding crisis that could reduce the number of deputies and endanger retention of a substation in the township.

"I have been reviewing ballot language with MTA (Michigan Township Association) for a police millage renewal," said Thurman. "In doing so I realized that I misunderstood our assessor last spring and did not figure personal property tax into the collection amount when I should have."

Thurman said the revised projected budget shows there are enough funds to keep the same number of deputies (currently 10.5) in 2012, without raising the millage. Even with a worst-case scenario of a 5 percent decrease in tax collection and a 3 percent increase in contracted wages, she said the township could use the general fund to support police.

Faced with the possibility earlier in August of having to reduce the police force in coming years, officials had also debated keeping the millage the same this year and going to voters next November to ask for an increase. After talking with MTA, Thurman said she is not sure to which ballot the board will submit language.

"The current police millage is good through 2013, so we could wait until 2014, or we could ask next year, but it wouldn't go into effect until 2014," Thurman said. "We are going to wait to see if we need see if we need more money for the police budget."

Whether more money is needed, she added, depends on variables including the effect of the new law requiring state employees to contribute 20 percent to their healthcare, pending arbitration, and decreases in tax revenue.

"There is still a concern that without raising the millage to the full mills that we will have to cut officers, but we are not sure when it would happen. Probably not for a couple years. It's difficult, because we are trying to make estimates on changing information."

While the board has no plans to increase the police millage, the library debt millage is proposed to change from .73 to .74 mills and the fire e&h millage will be raised from .5922 to .8922. The truth-in-taxation public hearing will be at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 19, at the township offices, 395 Mill St.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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