Source: Sherman Publications

Township to host public hearing on police funding

by David Fleet

September 05, 2012

Atlas Twp.- The township board of trustees has set a public hearing for 7 p.m., Sept 17 at the Atlas Township Hall, 7386 S. Gale Road, to discuss adjusting the amount and possibly the method of collecting police funding for area law enforcement.

The township established a contract with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department about 13 years ago, funded by 1 mill from area property owners. Since 2007 the cost for police protection has risen from $432,205 to $538,653 in 2012, about a 24 percent increase. At issue is a special assessment that was established in 2006 which included $50 for every improved lot and $25 for unimproved lots. Township officials implemented the special assessment to offset the necessary increase in police funding. The special assessment was renewed in 2010 by a 4-1 vote. There is one year left on the 1 mill.

Rick Misek, chairman of the township planning commission, encouraged the board and residents to do the right thing.

“Right now it’s fair the way the police in the township is funded,” he said. “The flat rate is revenue we can count on compared to a millage that fluctuates with the values of homes. I recommend we weather the storm out and keep the flat fee and 1 mill for police, then dip into the rainy day fund and use the dollars we’ve set aside. It’s been raining here in the United States for a long time.”

Since 2006, when the $50/$25 special assessment was first implemented, a local resident has challenged the township in the Michigan Tax Tribunal Small Claims Division. They judged in the resident’s favor from 2006 through 2011.

“We’ve been told that the special assesment is illegal in this application,” he said. “However, I challenge anyone to show me the statute that makes this illegal. I have not found it. I would love to see it.”

Last year a committee was established to research ways law enforcement could be funded in the township. Those findings were released on June 18.

The police funding advisory committee provided three proposals for the board of trustees to consider:

nMaintain current Genesee County Sheriff’s coverage for 2012-13. Replace current 1 mill and $50/$25 special assessment with an equivalent millage of 1.6192 mills, plus an Atlas Township general fund supplement for the balance.

nMaintain current Genesee County Sheriff’s coverage for 2012-13 based on a capped cost of $538,653. Any excess costs must be reduced by corresponding cuts in manpower, hours or other costs which are acceptable to both parties. Michigan State Police to provide coverage for hours not covered by the sheriff’s department.

nMaintain current Genesee County Sheriff’s coverage for the 2012-13 year and replace the current 1 mill along with the $50/$25 special assessment and township general fund supplement with a millage not to exceed 2.1 mills. The existing millage and $50/$25 special assessment is the equivalent of 1.6192 mills for a maximum increase of .4808.