Clinton Township merges dispatch on schedule

By: Nico Rubello | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published April 17, 2013

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — As expected, the Clinton Township Police Department transferred all police dispatching to the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office.

The Clinton Township Board of Trustees voted 4-2 in December to approve a three-year agreement to contract the county to take over police dispatching for $1.1 million a year. The amount will increase to about $1.3 million per year, once fire dispatch is transferred at an undetermined date in 2014.

Per the agreement, the county is assuming any startup and training costs associated with the transfer.

Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said the four Clinton Township police dispatchers who ultimately opted to transfer to the county are learning the procedures and protocols within the county dispatch system.

Clinton Township Police Chief Fred Posavetz said that, of the 12 police dispatchers employed by the township, those who did not want to move to county dispatch remained in roles within the township, or sought employment elsewhere.

All county dispatchers will be moved to a multi-million-dollar, high-tech county communications center once the center is completed, which is expected sometime by the end of the year.

Some dispatchers had opposed the measure, concerned that it would mean the loss of a personal touch that exists between dispatchers and police officers, and between dispatchers and the public.

Posavetz added that, within the county system, there are more dispatchers working at any one time than there were at the township. That means there are more dispatchers available to field 911 calls, when several calls are coming in, he said.

Supporters of the move, including Township Supervisor Robert Cannon, said contracting the county provides township residents with at least the same 911 service, but at a long-term cost savings.

That, they say, will help the police and fire funds in the long-run, especially in light of the fact that revenues to both the police and fire departments have taken a hit in recent years as their largest source of funding, property taxes, have fallen dramatically with property values.

And while the property values on which those taxes are based won’t be declining in 2013 by as much as the devastating, year-to-year drops seen in recent years, Township Assessor Jim Elrod said some areas have seen as much as 40 percent decreases in value.

But even as property values begin to stabilize and increase, the state’s Proposal A, passed in 1994, will limit tax increases. Township finance officials have said in the past that it could take as long as 15 to 20 years for taxable revenues to return to 2008 levels.

In Clinton Township, property values as a whole — including residential, commercial and industrial properties — will slightly decrease in 2013, Elrod added. Nine and 10 percent losses in the commercial and industrial sectors, respectively, have offset the slight, 2 percent increase among the residential sector, which includes by far the largest number of Clinton Township properties.

Still, Elrod said commercial and industrial value reductions should slow while residential values should continue to increase. These two factors add up to a “good sign” for the township, as far as revenues are concerned, he said.

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