West Bloomfield Township Fire Station No. 5 is located at 5425 W. Maple Road. Residents will decide two proposals in a special election Aug. 6, one of which is a public safety millage replacement that accounts for 65 percent of funding for fire, police, EMS and 911 dispatch services.

West Bloomfield Township Fire Station No. 5 is located at 5425 W. Maple Road. Residents will decide two proposals in a special election Aug. 6, one of which is a public safety millage replacement that accounts for 65 percent of funding for fire, police, EMS and 911 dispatch services.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Temporary polling locations announced for special election in West Bloomfield

Voters to decide public safety millage replacement, safety path millage renewal

By: Andy Kozlowski | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published July 9, 2019

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — There’s a special election in West Bloomfield Township next month, which officials say is critically important to funding nearly 70 percent of the police officers, firefighters, paramedics and 911 dispatchers in the community. The same election will also decide the continued development of the township’s safety path.

But first, residents will need to make sure they know where to vote. The polling locations for six precincts in the township are being temporarily relocated due to construction projects.

Where to vote

The special election is set for Tuesday, Aug. 6.

Voters in precincts 4, 5, 8 and 25 — normally the Scotch Elementary School and Gretchko Elementary School polling places — will temporarily vote at the West Bloomfield Administrative and Community Services Building, located at 5810 Commerce Road.

Voters in Precinct 9 — normally the Congregation Beth Ahm polling location — will temporarily vote at Covenant Baptist Church, located at 5800 W. Maple Road.

Voters in Precinct 10 — normally the Congregation Beth Ahm polling location — will temporarily vote at West Hills Middle School, located at 2601 Lone Pine Road.

“We realize these temporary relocations of polling places can be a nuisance for voters,” said Township Clerk Debbie Binder. “However, they frequently occur because our schools are investing in their buildings and resources, which definitely benefits the community at large.”

Two proposals

Voters in West Bloomfield Township will be considering two proposals in the special election.

The first proposal is to replace two public safety millages with a single combined millage at a reduced rate. The second proposal is to renew an existing safety path millage, also at a reduced rate.

Binder said that residents should think of “public safety” as the Police and Fire departments, including emergency medical services and 911 dispatch. And where the safety path is concerned, she said it’s a way to continue building what is commonly thought of as the sidewalk network.

“West Bloomfield has achieved recognition as one of the safest communities in the country,” Binder said, citing a 2019 award by SafeHome.org. “Our residents’ commitment to supporting their police, fire, EMS and dispatch … is what has allowed the community to earn a national ranking.”

The cost

The millage replacement takes two existing public safety millages — originally approved by voters in 2011 and expiring in 2021 — and replaces them with one new levy for an 11-year period expiring in 2030.

The two existing millages levy a total millage rate of 5.9878 mills. However, due to the Headlee Amendment’s rollback mandate, the proposed millage rate for the replacement is 5.7307 mills.

The township collects $1 for every $1,000 of taxable value, multiplied by the millage rate. So for a home in West Bloomfield Township with a taxable value of $100,000, the millage replacement would cost about $573 each year.

The other proposal, meanwhile, seeks to renew the township’s safety path millage that was originally approved by voters in 2004 and expires this December. The 2004 millage levied 0.1949 mill. The proposed rate for the renewal is 0.1895 mill for 15 years, expiring in 2034. This would cost the average home about $18.95 each year.

The township estimates that the public safety millage replacement would generate more than $21.4 million the first year, while the safety path millage renewal would bring in more than $708,200 the first year.

The value

The safety path millage finances the construction, improvement and maintenance of an interconnected, nonmotorized pedestrian pathway, one that is still incomplete but that will one day span 76 miles, winding throughout most of the township’s 33 square miles, ranging from 14 Mile and Inkster roads to Haggerty and Richardson roads, and to the Cooley Lake area.

The public safety millage replacement, meanwhile, covers a significant portion of the community’s public safety costs, including the Police Department and Fire Department. Through its general fund, the township allocates about $9 million annually for public safety purposes. However, this $9 million accounts for only 35 percent of the total public safety budget. The remaining 65 percent is provided by way of the public safety millages.

The township’s Police Department currently consists of 80 sworn officers, 18 support staff members and 12 dispatchers, although the department is budgeted for 15 dispatchers. There are 94 firefighters and three administrative assistants in the Fire Department. Without the new millage, substantial numbers of public safety personnel might have to be laid off, officials said.

“By approving the public safety renewal, residents will maintain the amount of staffing of police officers, 911 dispatchers and firefighter/paramedics,” said Steven Kaplan, the township supervisor. “The average response time for 911 calls is four minutes. … The amount of public safety staffing and the experiences and backgrounds of our officers has contributed to rapid response times, and one of the lowest crime rates in the state.”

Call Staff Writer Andy Kozlowski at (586) 279-1104.   

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