A Chesterfield Township Board of Trustees majority declined Tuesday to seek bids from a consulting firm for a police department review.
The proposal to solicit bids for independent firms to analyze the department comes on the heels of voters rejecting a tax increase last November. The agenda item, brought forth by Trustee David Joseph, was turned down by a 4-3 vote.
Joseph said, although he supported the police millage, he wants to come up with alternative solutions to combat the looming deficit. He says asking for bids for a consulting firm to review where the department could save money is worth considering.
Trustee Hank Anderson and Clerk Cindy Berry agreed.
"Quite frankly, up until now, I haven't seen any creative problem-solving," Berry said. "Come Jan. 1, 2014, if the only solution we have is we're going for another millage and it fails, we have a $2-million problem."
"Everyone knows the only reason this police department is in the predicament it's in is property taxes," Treasurer Linda Hartman said.
Township officials have said 92 percent of department revenues come from property taxes subject to declining housing values in recent years. A financial audit showed the police fund is expected to be completely depleted in the near future. The millage for an additional 2.5 mills was to be collected in perpetuity, in addition to the existing 5 mills. Police officials have said its failure would mean layoffs of up to 17 employees. However, the 43-member force is fully funded through the end of this year.
"Yes, there will be some layoffs coming, but we are budgeted through 2013," Supervisor Michael Lovelock said at the meeting.
Smith and Lovelock said Joseph's example of a Shelby Township police review wouldn't move Chesterfield's circumstances forward because it already implements many of those suggestions. They also noted that endeavor cost Shelby nearly $30,000 for the efficiency operational study in 2011.
"The points that were covered in the Shelby study, we covered every single one of them without spending $25,000," Smith said.
He told Patch earlier this month he hopes to put the matter back to voters soon but this time with a sunset provision.
Resident Lou Nigro, who applauded the police chief for cost-saving efforts in the department, said he was in favor of seeking bids from a consulting firm.
"I'm a fan of having a fresh set of disinterested eyes looking at the dire situation our police station is in," Nigro said.
The supervisor and former clerk Jan Uglis, who spoke before the board, noted they believe the millage would pass again. Competition from the fire tax proposal during a presidential election led to the police proposal's failure, they said.
"If the police millage goes by itself, you're not going to have a problem," Uglis said.
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