Fire, police millage passes in Harrison Township

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published March 9, 2016

 Harrison Township voters approved a fire and police millage Tuesday.

Harrison Township voters approved a fire and police millage Tuesday.

File photo by Julie Snyder

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HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Harrison Township firefighters are breathing a sigh of relief after learning their latest two-year millage increase request has passed voter approval.

During the March 8 presidential primary, the millage, which means a 1.083 mill increase for taxpayers, passed with 59 percent of the supporting vote, according to unofficial results.

“The IAFF (International Association of Firefighters) Local 1737 will not vary off our message for fire/EMS safety for our residents and visitors,” said union spokesperson Matthew Sahr. “The firefighters need to continue to work with the public officials to get the message out to our residents that their safety, families safety, and properties matter.”

The now total 8.20 millage rate, which means $8.20 per $1,000 of taxable value, funds the operation of the Harrison Township Fire Department, the Macomb County Sheriff’s contract and the general operating procedures in the township.

“It’s (the passage) good for a couple of reasons,” said township Supervisor Ken Verkest. “We’ve been down firefighters and now we’ll be able to get the ranks back up once the taxes are collected, which won’t be for more almost a year. The other thing is we tried to get the message put to the residents that there has been a delay in purchasing new equipment,”

That new tax money will help the department buy more modern gear and items like new extracting equipment made stronger and more durable than the current Jaw of Life apparatus equipment.

“This makes a difference when it comes to saving somebody’s life,” Verkest said.

Of the new rate, 6.35 mills will be designated for fire protection services, including vehicles, apparatuses, equipment, housing, personnel, and emergency medical and ambulance service, as well as an increase of 0.8475 over the most recent levy of 5.5025.

“Daily staffing matters, period,” said Sahr. “Our residents deserve the same standards our neighbors enjoy.

“Passing this millage is a message from the voters that they want proper staffing of at least eight firefighters on duty,” he continued. “Thank you to the voters for putting your confidence in our fire department.”

Harrison Township Clerk Adam Wit reports voter turnout for the presidential primary was 39.6 percent, or 7,941 voters, which is considerably higher than the 2012 voter turnout of 20.64 percent, or 4,004 voters.

In addition, 1.6500 mills is for police protection services, which is an increase of 0.0355 over the most recent levy of 1.6145. The contract allows for 10 deputies with two on duty during shifts.

The proposal will raise an estimated $7,144,488 in the first year, officials say.

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