The Inkster and Maple roads area is set to benefit  from a voter-approved safety path millage.

The Inkster and Maple roads area is set to benefit from a voter-approved safety path millage.

Photo by Kayla Dimick

With millages secure, township looks to maintain service, extend safety path

By: Andy Kozlowski | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published August 20, 2019

 The area of Knollwood Circle and Maple Road has been indicated as an area to benefit from a recent safety path millage approval.

The area of Knollwood Circle and Maple Road has been indicated as an area to benefit from a recent safety path millage approval.

Photo by Kayla Dimick


WEST BLOOMFIELD — Two major millages recently passed in West Bloomfield Township, and both the public safety replacement millage and the safety path millage renewal received overwhelming support.

Now township officials are looking to maintain police and fire services while continuing to expand the network of sidewalks crisscrossing town.

Township Supervisor Steven Kaplan said the funds from the safety path millage will be allocated as follows:

• Construction of an approximately 1/4-  mile safety path on the north side of Maple Road, east of Middlebelt Road, from the culvert to Knollwood Circle.

• Construction and completion of a 2/3-mile safety path at Knollwood Circle, on the south side of Maple Road, to Inkster Road.

• Addressing the maintenance needs of the other safety paths.

“The township will conduct a study to determine the safety paths that need repair, as well as the priority of construction of future safety paths in our 72-mile system,” Kaplan said.

The safety path is an interconnected, nonmotorized pedestrian pathway that will one day span 76 miles, winding across the township’s 33 square miles from 14 Mile and Inkster roads to Haggerty and Richardson roads, and to the Cooley Lake area.

As for the public safety replacement millage, there are no plans to add staff positions, buy new equipment or conduct new construction at the Police Department or six fire stations. Rather, Kaplan said, the funds will enable each department to continue operating at the same levels permitted by the 2009-2020 public safety stanzas authorized by the current and soon-to-expire millages.

“Our residents’ confidence in the township, as reflected by approving the millage renewal by a wide margin, allows the township to continue to provide public safety services at the current levels,” Kaplan said, noting that the township currently employs 80 sworn police officers, 95 firefighter/paramedics and 14 emergency dispatchers, and that the township has one of the lowest crime rates in the state.

The public safety millage replacement covers a significant portion of the community’s public safety costs. Kaplan previously explained that the township’s general fund allocates about $9 million annually for public safety, but that only accounts for 35% of the total public safety budget. The millages provide the remaining 65%.

In the special election Aug. 6, 82.52% of 6,649 voters approved the measure to replace two public safety millages with a single combined millage at a reduced rate of 5.7307 mills that will expire in 2030. For the safety path renewal, 75.18% of voters approved the proposal, for a rate of 0.1895 mill through 2034.

The township collects $1 for every $1,000 of taxable value, multiplied by the millage rate. For a home in West Bloomfield Township with a taxable value of $100,000, the cost will be about $573 each year for the public safety millage and about $18.95 each year for the safety path renewal.

West Bloomfield Police Chief Mike Patton said that the millage allows the department to avoid downsizing.

“Without these millages it would have compromised half of our funding, in light of which there could have been a significant rollback in services,” Patton said. “When I started here over three decades ago, we had more than 30 officers (compared to 80 officers now), and it was still a good department then. But over time, things have become more complex, with more concerns about mass shootings and school safety, and training and preparing for those things, which puts extra demand on our officers in ways that we didn’t have before. And so we have additional officers to help provide those services, and we provide them with a significant amount of training and leadership to help them make the best decisions, no matter what situations they may face.”

West Bloomfield Fire Chief Gregory Flynn said that his department is thankful for the support from the residents. The department operates on a minimum daily staffing of 22 firefighter/paramedics and has contingency plans in place for changes in demand for service.

“We’re grateful every single day to answer the calls for service. When (the residents) approve the funding for us to do that in a timely way, it makes the whole system that much more successful,” Flynn said. “The voters knew that if we didn’t approve this, the service would look different, and they said overwhelmingly that different isn’t what they wanted. They want to continue the same high level of service.”