Voters asked to OK public safety millages
Feb. 18, 2015 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
Plymouth Michigan News
This will be the first time the City of Plymouth has asked for a dedicated millage to fund public safety.
Residents in both the city and township of Plymouth will be asked to approve public safety millage requests during the Feb. 24 election.
This will be the first time the City of Plymouth has asked for a dedicated millage to fund public safety, according to Police Chief Al Cox who spoke about the upcoming vote at a meeting of the Plymouth Noon Rotary Club recently.
According to Cox, if voters approve the requested 1.5 mills, the city will be able to hire one more full-time officer at a first-year cost of $75,934 and three part-time fully sworn certified police officers at a first-year cost of $168,408. The millage would generate about $637,023 annually, according to city documents.
In Plymouth Township, residents will be asked to renew two millage questions which will expire in December. Proposal 1 is for 0.5631 mills and Proposal 2 for 1.6348 mills totaling 2.2979 mills which will generate about $3.7 million annually to pay for police, fire and emergency medical response, along with dispatch services.
Each mill of tax equals about $1 of tax revenue for every $1,000 of State Equalized Value (SEV) of a home, usually about half the assessed market value of the property.
In Plymouth Township, that would remain at about $2.20 for each $1,000 of taxable value and in the City of Plymouth, yes vote would add about $1.50 for every $1,000 of taxable value to current tax bills.
In Plymouth Township, the annual public safety budget is estimated at about $8.9 mil- lion with the current millages paying about $3.7 million. Officials have said they are confident the millage renewals will be approved by voters as the request is not a tax increase.
Public safety in both communities has been at the center of controversy since the two disbanded the shared community fire department in 2011. The township currently claims the city still owes more than $3 million in retirement costs for the time the joint department was in operation. City commission members recently approved the hiring of an outside financial firm to investigate the financial claim of the township regarding retirement liabilities.
After the dissolution of the joint community department, the City of Plymouth partnered with the City of Northville to provide services through an on-call fire service. Township officials laid off more than one-third of the department firefighters and closed the fire station in the Lake Pointe area. The township rehired some full-time professional firefighters through the use of a federal grant, limited to a two-year period. This is the same federal funding rejected by Township Supervisor Richard Reaume two years ago when the layoffs were under way.
Aging equipment, including dilapidated fire trucks which broke down on the way to emergencies are in dire need of replacement, according to officials. Two new ambulances have been ordered and are scheduled for delivery this month and outdated and worn protective gear for firefighters has been replaced. Two-way radios have been brought up to the new standards, allowing the firefighters, allowing firefighters to communicate at the scene of a blaze, a feature the outdated equipment could no longer provide, according to fire officials.
The city of Plymouth, with a population of 9,022, currently has 15 officers, who answered 8,957 calls in 2013. According to city records, calls for service to the police department have continued to rise steadily during the past seven years while staffing has remained constant for the past decade.
Plymouth Township, with a population of 28,045, is served by 31 police officers, according to literature produced by the township.