Although they haven’t been saying what would happen if the 1 additional mill for police operation doesn’t pass in the May 3 election, Sumpter Township Police officers and supporters indicate it would negatively affect the level of service township residents now have.
Police Lt. Eric Luke, speaking as a citizen, has led two public forums and spoken at mobile home community meetings and elsewhere to explain what is at stake.
The 1 mill of additional taxation is expected to bring in $335,000 for the first year it is levied: 2011.
It would run concurrently with the 2 other police mills for five years, 2011-2015, that were renewed last November. This would make a total of 3 mills levied for police protection, operation, and maintenance.
Lt. Luke recalled that last November voters passed the 2-mill renewal by a vote of 3 to 1. Since the police department had had cost-cutting measures in 2009-10, they thought the 2-mill renewal would be all they needed.
But then the landfill royalties went down substantially, some $1.4 million over two years.
Police, and other unions of the township, agreed to a 5% cut in pay and to pay more out-of-pocket for health care.
The police budget went from $2 million in 2008-9 to $1.5 million proposed for 2011-12.
When the board voted on the ballot language in February, Township Supervisor Johnny Vawters said he didn’t want to sit at the board table and watch the township go into receivership without giving the voters a chance to decide on the millage.
He estimated the additional mill will cost the average Sumpter resident 15 cents a day more in taxes and conceded that some residents may not be able to afford that 15 cents. He said the township has to ask.
Sumpter Township residents also pay 1 mill for fire protection and .7 mill for the district library, along with the 1 mill township tax and other county levies for a total of 35 mills, with only 4.7 mills coming back to the township.
Vawters said police and dispatch could be severely impacted if the millage doesn’t pass and reminded everyone that the police department is the township’s first line of defense.
Vawters said Sumpter is in serious negotiations with Huron Township to consolidate dispatch services, which would cut the dispatch costs for Sumpter about in half.
The police department is down four officers, Lt. Luke said at the forums.