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Chesterfield Voters Will be Asked to Pay Higher Taxes for Police, Fire

The Board of Trustees unanimously agreed Wednesday to place the issues on the November ballot.

Chesterfield Township residents will be asked to pay higher taxes for police and fire services.

The Board of Trustees decided Wednesday to place a millage increase for police as well as a millage renewal and increase for fire on the general election ballot. The trustees unanimously agreed that the higher taxes are needed to keep the departments afloat in light of decreased revenue from property taxes.

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"It's now in the voters' hands," Supervisor Michael Lovelock said after the board agreed to place the issues on the November ballot .

What the ballot proposals mean for residents

The fire department will ask voters to renew the existing mills, along with a .75 mill increase. The additional .75 mills will be added to the previously collected 2 mills for operations. The previously collected .5 mills for equipment will be also be on the ballot for renewal. If approved, the tax collection would be in effect for 20 years.

The police department already collects 5 mills that do not require renewal. Voters will asked to approve another 2.5 mills that would be also be collected annually in perpetuity.

That means residents who own a house with a market value of $150,000 would pay a total of $243.75 extra annually if the police and fire taxes are approved, according to township officials.

"I know it's a hardship for some people financially but this may be the only way we can do it," Trustee Christine Bell said. "Maybe this is a necessary evil, this millage."

Treasurer Linda Hartman agreed the millages should be placed on the ballot, but said "It makes me a little uncomfortable to ask the residents to bear so much."

Some residents criticized the endless tax collection for police and the 20-year collection for fire.

"Personally, I think both millage increases should be revisited in a maximum of 10 years," Lou Nigro told the board.

Township: police and fire in financial danger

Since 2007, the . The department went on 3,000 runs last year and is currently about 240 runs ahead of that pace this year. Each of the three stations are staffed with two employees--less than many other fire departments, Charbonneau said.

If residents don't renew the millage, the department cannot exist. But, the added .75 mills sought will mean a balanced budget and about $600,000 for savings in the first year, he said.

Lovelock told the chief, "You lost $600,000 in four years due to the downturn of the economy...Basically, we just want to get back to where we were four years ago."

Trustee Michele Ficht, who was on the , said "It's just to maintain services the way they are...I don't think we're overreaching."

Police Chief Bruce Smith, who says 92 percent of department revenues come from property taxes, told the board, "When we go to the voters, we have to ask for an amount that would make the police department solvent."

A financial audit showed the in four to five years.

"This is a long-term problem," said township Finance Director Victoria Bauer, referring to the department's losses from declining property values.

Smith said without the tax increase, he expects major cuts--losing at least 17 officers--on the force. Lovelock told the board and audience members that residents paying an average of $20 a month more is worth .

Are you in favor of paying higher taxes for the police and fire departments in Chesterfield? Tell us your thoughts in the comments' section below.

Maximus Max July 19, 2012 at 12:10 AM
One word. NO!
Rene Nelson July 19, 2012 at 01:10 AM
I want our homes and families safe so yes I am up for paying. Will it hurt my pocket book? Yes. But if my children or my home are threatened or hurt I want to know that an emergency officer will be there. If we lose our fire and police, we lose our security, our safety, and our peace of mind.
PJ July 19, 2012 at 01:34 AM
What about all of the taxes we already pay? I'm for renewing the current mils, but not so sure about increasing.
Rene Nelson July 19, 2012 at 10:41 AM
Because all of the Property values went down, the taxes went down so emergency departments are not receiving enough money to keep running. If we cut back on these services the crime rates will go up and our property values will go down even more.
Christy Arboscello (Editor) July 19, 2012 at 12:51 PM
You can take the Patch poll on this subject here: http://patch.com/A-wlzY
T.K. Scott July 19, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Hard times have hit us all thru this recession and we've all suffered thru pay cuts and layoff's so why shouldn't they also? How about a pay cut from the top down?
Duane H Mallast July 19, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Hard times without a doubt have hit us all and some how we need to get through this time period. So my suggestion is; a 5% pay cut from the top down for all employees that have permanent residence in the township and a 10% pay cut for those that have a permanent residence out side the township.
Henry July 22, 2012 at 03:23 PM
It would be nice to have more business to open up stores in are area. That would help to hire more employes in our area. I believe it would draw more population witch would ad paid taxes to our township.
Rene Nelson July 22, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Try living in Deroit or even Mt Clemens for that matter and see what happens when you have an emergency. I do not want underpaid and understaffedpeoplee risking their lives everyday. I know without a doubt that pay and numbers would not keep them from doing their jobs but if they are running in to burning buildings and standing in front of bullets they at least deserve our support.
MLY August 07, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Shouldn't there be some type of stipulation that states when the property values go up the millages will be reduced or expire? Maybe they can limit the amount that can be collected or place a ceiling on it. Otherwise taxes will continue to climb.
Todd Andrews September 30, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Macomb Township residents pay 1 mil for police service through the Macomb County Sheriff. This provides 5 cars on days, 6 on afternoons, and 4 on midnights. This includes 2 command officers along with full service crime scene units, detectives, traffic, K-9, and tactical units if needed. Put this in perspective, Chesterfield's current 5 mil tax provides a minimum compliment of 3 cars and 1 command officer 24/7. Now, adding 2.5 mils would be a 7.5 mil vs 1 mil for Macomb which still offers more patrol units. Give this a thought, if you contracted the sheriff and only funded it with the mil increase request of 2.5 mil you'd have 12 sheriff cars on days, 15 afts, and 10 on mids. Contracting with the sheriff is best option and the current Chesterfield officers will still be hired by the sheriff.

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