Renewal of public safety millage to be on ballot
Nov. 2, 2014 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
Plymouth Michigan News
By: Don Howard
Members of the Plymouth Township Board of Trustees unanimously voted to place the renewal of two current public safety millages on a February ballot. They will not ask for any increase in the millage rate but ask voters to extend the current rate for 20 years.
The vote followed a study session Oct. 14, scheduled to review the expiring millages, along with the 2015 budget, estimated at $13.87 million. Notice was posted late Friday evening for the previously unscheduled meeting following a regular meeting the week before.
Following the meeting, residents commented that the real issues involved were the ongoing battle between township officials and the local fire department union and the very public skirmish with the City of Plymouth regarding $3.2 million in costs for past fire services incurred during the time the communities shared fire department services as part of an intergovernmental agreement.
Residents in attendance at the study session said they sup- port the fire department and have great concerns about the severe reductions in staffing and a closed fire station. Many said they attended the meeting after postings on social media and the internet included information from the board packet indicating township officials might raise taxes to help pay for a hotly contested $1.9 million park pavilion and outdoor amphitheater. The controversial project was the impetus for the grassroots recall effort aimed at Supervisor Richard Reaume, Treasurer Ron Edwards, Clerk Nancy Conzelman and Trustee Kay Arnold.
A 2-mill police and fire millage was approved in 1985 was in effect from 1986 to 2005. In 2006 voters approved the reduction of the millage to1.6348. The police and fire millage generates nearly half the annual township revenue or about $2.20 per thousand dollars of assessed property value. The total assessment in the township is about $4 per thousand dollars of assessed value. If approved, the renewed millages would generate about $3.7 million in 2016. The Headlee Reduction, as it is known, was approved in 1978. It only allows a millage to generate extra revenue at the rate of inflation plus new revenue from new construction. Any extra revenue is given back to the taxpayer in a millage reduction.
“We don’t feel there is a need at this point to ask for an increase,” said Reaume at the study session. The current millages expire at the end of 2015.
Reaume was adamant about scheduling the public safety referendum in February, timing questioned by one resident who felt the early winter date would not garner the needed voter support to approve the renewal millage. The election is scheduled for Feb. 24.
Trustee Mike Kelly was absent from the meeting, which at times became volatile. When members of the audience repeatedly said they couldn’t hear Conzelman, Reaume screamed into his microphone, “Maybe we need to talk like this.”
Raised voices continued when Edwards angrily deflected questions from Trustee Bob Doroshewitz about staff salaries and benefits and officials’ favoritism in hiring practices, calling them gifts. Doroshewitz said that the 2015 budget for the supervisory office was $437,207.00 up 3 percent from the prior year and $100,000 was spent to subsidize the park golf course venture, which in past years has operated at a loss.