Source: Sherman Publications

Twp. inks three-year sheriff contract

by David Fleet

January 22, 2014

Atlas Twp.-By a 3-0 vote on Tuesday night the township board of trustees OK’d a new contract with the Genesee County Sheriff Department. Township Supervisor Shirley Kautman-Jones, Clerk Tere Onica and Trustee Patrick Major voted yes. Township Treasurer Ann Marie Moore and Trustee Barry June were absent.

The new three-year contract, effective Jan. 1, 2014 with the sheriff, included four deputies along with funding for a part-time detective-sergeant, split between Fenton and the township. Terms of the contract include that costs for police protection do not exceed what is generated by the millage from the township and Village of Goodrich homeowners, reported Kautman-Jones.

In May, by a vote of 576 yes to 382 no, township voters approved 2.1 mills to fund police coverage for the community. The four-year millage will fund a $565,000 contract. A township taxpayer with a $100,000 home pays about $105 per year. The approved millage replaced the 1 mill levy along with $50 for improved lots and $25 for unimproved lots that expired 2012.

“The new contract will provide some parameters for the county,” she said. “The contract allows us the latitude to keep costs within our budgeted amount. We have to be consistent and conservative of what we have to spend.”

Since the police funding in the township is based solely on ad valorem, Latin for “according to value,” a tax based on the value of real estate or personal property—the amount available will fluctuate as home values change. If home values increase, so will the amount of funding for the sheriff contract.

“We are not expecting property values to increase too much over the length of the contract,” she added.

Genesee County Undersheriff Chris Swanson was pleased with the new contract.

“We’ve been partners with Atlas Township for more than 20 years and it’s the best deal on the market for full time police,” said Swanson. “It’s Cadillac service with a Chevy price—there’s no profit built in for us. In 2013 the deputies took a 10 percent pay cut, with no raises—health costs are rising. Like any contract your cost is in personnel—that’s where we made cuts, that’s where there’s savings. Where else are you going have a full-time police for less than $600,000 per year.”

The township established a contract with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department about 14 years ago, funded by 1 mill from area property owners. Since 2007 the cost for police protection has risen from $432,205 to $565,653 in 2013, about a 24 percent increase.

The residents of Vienna Township, who also have a contract with the sheriff’s office for police coverage, are currently charged for the service. According to news reports, Vienna Township pays about $1 million a year for eight deputies to cover the area, while Fenton Township funds about $667,655 for each year for five full-time deputies and a part-time detective.