2021 Public Safety Millage Request
The current 1.95 public safety millage, approved in 2011, expires this year. The 1 mill increase (for a total of 2.95 mills for public safety) is being requested to address the following factors:
- When we requested the 1 mill increase in 2011 we did not project that the recovery from the Great Recession would take nearly an entire decade. In other words, Pittsfield Township did not return to its pre-recession taxable value until 2017 due to Headlee and Proposal A even though our assessed values increased significantly because of the development activity in our community.
- Due to this slow economic recovery, we have operated – over the past decade – within a very constrained fiscal framework. We did so by depleting fund reserves, eliminating and reducing the number of public safety personnel, relying more heavily on transfers from the general fund, and applying for grant funds.
- The 1 mill increase for the next five years that we are requesting will allow Pittsfield to hire more public safety personnel to meet the dual goals of serving a higher population base and doing so within the context of equity and social justice.
- The request is for 5 years because the current countywide public safety & mental health millage expires in 2026 (5 years). By requesting a 5-year Township public safety millage, we will be able to align with the county’s timeline so all future taxes – Township and other – are imposed in context of each other and no one feels like they are being double-taxed for the same service.
For more details, please view the presentation we have compiled for the public forums.
If approved, the additional 1 mill will not significantly alter Pittsfield Township's status as having one of the lowest tax rates in Washtenaw County while being one of only two full-service municipalities providing water, sewer, rubbish, parks and recreation, Public Safety (police and fire), assessing, and building services to its residents.
If you approve the proposed 5-year, 1 mill Public Safety millage increase, it will allow us to continue providing you with the Gold Standard of Public Service from your Public Safety team, which translates to:
- A response rate of 5 minutes or less
- A nearly 90% rate for solving major crimes
- Increased traffic safety and neighborhood patrols
- Systematic inclusion of racial and socio-economic equity outcomes in all our Public Safety work processes and products
- Improved coordination with social workers and mental health professionals to improve Public Safety services' effectiveness
- Improved neighborhood engagement and community event participation
Failure to approve the Public Safety millage will require Pittsfield Township to, among other things:
- Reduce police officer staffing
- Reduce fire fighter staffing
- Maintain or cut salaries that may impact the quality of our workforce
- Defer many of our racial equity initiatives and programs
- Eliminate some essential training programs for police and fire personnel
- Extend equipment and vehicle lifespan beyond accepted best practices and standards
- Reduce attendance by police and fire personnel at community education and safety awareness events including opioid crises, domestic and sexual assault, and active shooter
- Require longer wait times for both emergency and non-emergency responses by police and fire
For the last 10 consecutive years, Pittsfield Township has received the award of excellence in financial reporting, the highest form of recognition from the Governors Finance Officers Association (GFOA.)
Pittsfield Township is the only Township in all of Washtenaw County to receive this distinguished award on a continual basis over the past decade.
Our exceptional fiscal stewardship of your tax dollars, over the past decade, is borne out by the fact that we:
- Have continuously reduced administrative costs, including adjusting the number of employees to maintain fiscal stewardship
- Have maintained low administrative costs as evidenced by the fact that our overall expenditures have remained essentially the same over the past decade
- Have strategically deployed our limited sworn officers and firefighters, which has kept major crimes at essentially the same levels as a decade ago
- Acquired $50 million in grant funding, since 2009, to improve the safety and well-being for all in our community
Pittsfield Township has one of the lowest millage rates in Washtenaw County (6.5 mills). If you approve the millage replacement request, it will not significantly change our comparative millage standing – Pittsfield Township will continue boasting one of the lowest millage rates in Washtenaw County.
In fact, the Township has not increased any taxes for more than a decade, with the exception of the 1 mill increase in the public safety millage in 2011. As such, the taxes you pay to Pittsfield Township have remained, for the most part, constant for the past 10 years as evidenced from the below graphic depicting the tax bill of a home with a taxable value of about $110,000 (and a market value of $220,000).
In order to plan for the next decade, we must understand that:
- We will have to serve a higher population base
- The significant increase in Group C crimes, along with our commitment to equity and community-centric public safety (e.g., neighborhood patrols, community events, traffic patrols, public education) will require more personnel
- The General Fund, the tax rate for which has remained untouched since 2009, will continue to support the majority (about 60%) of funding for public safety services
The passage of the Washtenaw County Mental Health and Public Safety millage in 2017 (funds available 2019-2026) along with the elimination of eight (8) positions in 2018 from dispatch has allowed us, for the past four years, to bring revenues more in line with expenditures without fully depleting the Public Safety fund balance.
However, at this time not only do we need to rebuild the fund balance but meet the dual goals of serving a growing population base and doing so within the context of greater equity and social justice. While we will receive a one-time fiscal stimulus this year through the American Rescue Plan Act*, those monies will be expended – as we have with the many other grants we have acquired over the past decade (for a total of $50 million) – for one-time capital expenditures to enhance the safety and well-being of our community.
Without access to a dedicated revenue stream generated from a 2.95 public safety millage for recurring operational and service costs, we will be unable to maintain the current level of public safety services in Pittsfield Township.
*The approximately $4 million in one-time Federal stimulus money being received this year is primarily earmarked for, as required by funding criterion, for sewer and road infrastructure improvement projects.