This is in response to Tom Stone's letter regarding public safety priorities. The law enforcement service that the city receives from the sheriff's department is not as intensive as we had when the city had its own police department.
What can we do about this? The city pays $100,000+ per year for coverage from the sheriff's department. We couldn't fund a separate police department for that amount. The voters turned down a millage request for police services in 2010. A constable committee looked into alternatives at the end of 2010. It costed out hiring a city police officer for 40 hours per week at an annual cost of $56,593. That still doesn't fit the current budget, which has gotten smaller since then.
The only way I see to increase the level of police protection is to ask the voters again for a police millage. Last time around, the city asked for a full 5 mills, the maximum increase that the city could seek. A lower millage, combined with what we now spend on law enforcement with the contract with the township might be more palatable to the voters and might be enough to partially fund a city police department. Or perhaps a dedicated millage for supplemental support, such as the single officer that the constable committee looked at might be something that the voters would approve. For example, a 2 mill tax would yield about $68,000.
As a council member, I'd be interested in hearing from Clarkston taxpayers whether there is any interest in revisiting the question of funding law enforcement services and whether there is any support for a tax increase to fund more intensive service.