West Bloomfield voters approve public safety, safety path proposals

West Bloomfield Beacon | Published August 6, 2019 | Updated August 7, 2019 9:37am

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Voters in West Bloomfield Township gave resounding approval for two millage proposals at the polls Aug. 6.

Officials said the proposals were critically important to funding nearly 70 percent of the police officers, firefighters, paramedics and 911 dispatchers in the community. The same election also decides the continued development of the township’s safety path.

For the public safety millage, 82.52% of 6,649 voters approved of the measure to replace two public safety millages with a single combined millage at a reduced rate. For the second proposal, 75.18% of voters approved renewing an existing safety path millage, also at a reduced rate.

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 will cost about $573 each year.

The other proposal, meanwhile, sought 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 rate for the renewal is 0.1895 mill for 15 years, expiring in 2034. This will cost the average home about $18.95 each year.

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

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 cuts  could have been necessary.

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