Tax Increase Or Public Safety Cuts?

By: Jamie Edmonds Email
By: Jamie Edmonds Email

Meridian township firefighters hit the streets Tuesday, trying to get the word out about what they call a dire situation.

"I don't know how we continue to do business and provide the services we do with less people than we have now," Firefighter Bill Richardson said. "We're already at the breaking point."

As proposed, the 2011 township budget cuts eight positions from both police and fire departments. The township manager blames declining property taxes and cuts to state revenue sharing, and he said 2012 could be even worse.

"In 2012, up to 10 positions could be reduced," Jerry Richards, Meridian Township manager, said.

But there is a way to stop the bleeding, Richards said, and it's called the Headlee Override.

"The Headlee Amendment came in the 1970s as a means to keep the cost of taxes at or below the rate of inflation," he said.

On November's ballot, the township will ask voters to reverse that rule and increase the millage from 4.2 to the maximum 5 mills for the next six years.

Firefighters passed out cards Tuesday, hoping to put this confusing issue in black and white.

The township manager said he proposed the 2011 budget as if the ballot proposal failed, but if it were to pass, some positions could be restored.

"Six positions could be restored," Richards said.

If it fails, Richardson said, response times will most certainly increase and ambulance service will definitely decrease.

"We won't be able to staff four ambulances, maybe not even three," he said.

It's a scary situation the firefighters said they'd like to avoid, which is why they'll be out knocking on doors until November.

The firefighters said even if the millage increase were to pass, 90 percent of taxpayers in the township will pay less in taxes than they did this year.

Richards said for the average homeowner of a $200,000 house, with a taxable value of $100,000 would pay about $80 more per year if the override passed in November.

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  • by non anonymous on Oct 6, 2010 at 06:27 PM
    I predict in the very near future , you will have to pay for police protection. If you don't have the money, a crime against you will not be investigated. The right and the left are controlled by the same beast, wake up people.
  • by Anonymous on Oct 6, 2010 at 05:47 PM
    If myself and my neighbors pool together our money, we can start a neighborhood watch and be as effective as the police. $50 goes a long way for CPR training.
  • by david Location: charlotte on Oct 6, 2010 at 09:54 AM
    i agree with you john its alwasy 20$ here or 100$ there and if you notice the bonds or millages never seem to expire they just seem to keep adding to your property tax or they ask for a renewal its time to vote no its time to tell the ones that want your money to suck it up and stop threating us with reducing safety services
  • by Ricardo Location: Lansing on Oct 6, 2010 at 03:23 AM
    To me, Police and fire protection are top priority items. They definately should be off from the table and look for other ways to reduce costs. It wouldn't take much investigation in any community to find significant savings in administrative and clerical staffs. If there are 10 "workstations" in a city,township or any other office type setting, you can bet there will be someone sitting at all of them bleeding the taxpayers dry. Reduce office staff and other costs that really are non-productive, and keep the most important people that help ensure public safety and well being on the job! What would you rather have? A ton of clerks and administrators keeping their chairs warm, or dedicated professionals doing a sometimes dangerous and thankless job. Pretty much a no brainer! (And no, I am NOT affiliated with any special interest groups. I am just a regular guy that isn't blindsided by politicians attempting to bleed the taxpayers dry!) Thank you. Ricardo
  • by Anonymous on Oct 5, 2010 at 06:56 PM
    Looks like a tough call one way or another. I have a idea? Lets get jobs, jobs, jobs back to Michigan. Why did the DEM. forget that part the last time we voted for them? They say thier working on that, but what happen the past 2 years? I'm not sure they can get it done? Maybe I should vote for the GOP.
  • by steve Location: lansing on Oct 5, 2010 at 05:04 PM
    more scare tactis...... May if the township would have voted to allow the high-end homes behind Toms party store they would have more tax revenue... how about the other business they have said no too... maybe you better start thinking about your tax base, and less about all the green space you want.
  • by Dan Location: DeWitt on Oct 5, 2010 at 05:02 PM
    It's sad that every municipality is in this same bind. While a portion of it is the declining income from property taxes (which is a much larger problem,) a large portion of it comes from the fact that state revenue sharing has been slashed over and over again. Maybe the state government should stop funneling tax payer dollars to social welfare and entitlement programs, and start giving it back to the communities that need to provide public safety services. I never thought I would see the day where we were putting cops and firefighters in fear of losing their jobs so we could keep people on unemployment living in subsidized housing with government backed health care.
  • by John Location: Lansing on Oct 5, 2010 at 04:48 PM
    It's only $80 a year,BUT they want 80 for this and 50 for that and it all adds up to more than ppl can afford anymore.It's cheaper to vote no and then get a CCW permit.
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