Chesterfield Township's top-elected leader took a firm stand against disbanding police, amid questions Monday night about saving taxpayers money.
"I feel strongly in my police and fire departments and I will do everything in my power to keep the police and fire departments in Chesterfield," Supervisor Michael Lovelock said, drawing applause from the crowd.
The Board of Trustees unanimously approved the police department's 2013 budget at the meeting. The total budget was approximately $9 million, with about $7.1 million in revenues mainly from property taxes. A difference of approximately $1.9 million was approved from the police reserve fund to balance the budget, according to Police Chief Bruce Smith.
"It was very very reassuring that so many people spoke so highly of the police department," Smith said after the meeting.
The budget approval does not mean higher taxes. The police department operates on an endless millage that became enforced in 1989, Lovelock said.
The talks, however, come on the heels of a that showed the police fund was heading for depletion in four to five years if nothing changed. A . Although no specifics about the meeting have been released, a potential tax increase for the department may be discussed at that time.
Several residents told the board they support the police department in the community and disapproved of any potential disbanding of the force in favor of contracting with the Macomb County Sheriff's Office.
"I think our police department is one of the finest in the state," said Rene Nelson, a mother of four. "I would take everything I have to pay a higher tax to keep our police department. I'm sure that 90 percent of Chesterfield residents would."
Other residents expressed concern that the police have been on a trend in recent years of spending more than they have taken in.
"Projected revenues continue to decrease while projected expenses continue to increase," resident Lou Nigro told the board.
Some questioned whether township officials have explored contracting with the Sheriff's Office or joining forces with New Baltimore police.
"I'm going to tell you right now, New Baltimore wants their police department just like we want ours," Lovelock said.
Smith said revenues are down because of declining property values in the community, pointing out that 92 percent of the police revenue is from tax collection.
He says the department has made various efforts to keep costs down, such as doubling the roof insulation and having more energy-efficient lighting. Grants have been secured to pay for many upgrades or equipment for the force, such as a approved for purchase in the spring.