Frequently Asked Questions about the Public Safety Millage
Why is there a special election being held for the Public Safety millage this year?
Pittsfield Township has two 10-year millages – one for Parks and a second one for Public Safety; the only other tax the Township levies is for the General Fund, which has remained untouched for close to 15 years. Every time either the Park or Public Safety millage is set to expire, the Township puts the vote on the ballot for the first election of that year (in this case May) to allow for a second/third election cycle later in the year (August/November) before the millage expires in December. This is done to ensure that if the first/second millage vote is not approved by the residents, there is time to go back for another vote to provide for a continued revenue source as of December of that year. The last Public Safety Millage election was held in May 2011 and Park Millage in March 2016.
Why haven’t you shared more information about the millage election?
- The current Public Safety millage is set to expire in December 2021
- As per protocol, the request to place the issue on the ballot was discussed with the Board of Trustees in January 2021 and ballot language was approved by the Board in February 2021
- The Supervisor’s Community Letter informed of the upcoming millage vote on March 1, 2021
- A press release was issued on March 15, 2021
- A postcard with millage information was compiled and mailed to every Township resident a few days later on March 20, 2021
- The schedule for the bi-annual Pittsfield Post newsletter (also mailed to every Township resident) was pushed up from May to April to provide the public detailed information about the millage by compiling and finalizing it on March 26, 2021 (it has to go through a three-week printing and distribution process; it is available online: www.pittsfield-mi.gov/post)
In addition, as always, full information is available for public consumption on the Township website either directly from the homepage or via the Public Safety page at the following locations:
Why do you need to increase the Public Safety millage rate when there is so much development occurring in Pittsfield Township?
- The Great Recession (2010-2014) shrunk Pittsfield’s SEV but we relied on two revenue sources – Public Safety fund balance and General Fund revenues – to ensure no police or fire fighters were laid off. As such, Pittsfield Township was the only municipality to not lay off personnel during and immediately after the Great Recession.
- The development activity over the past 5 years has helped Pittsfield recoup its lost SEV and has allowed General Fund to sustain current police, fire, and other operations. Even so, in 2018, the Township had to eliminate Dispatch and lay off eight (8) public safety personnel.
- Going into the next 10 year Public Safety millage cycle, the following factors require an increased and dedicated revenue source to meet the basic public safety needs for all Pittsfield residents:
- The Township is looking to focus more on preservation and less on development such that General Fund revenues cannot absorb increasing costs for public safety
- The County’s Public Safety and Mental Health millage, which directs about $700,000 to public safety revenues, expires in 5 years
- The population of Pittsfield Township has increased by nearly 10,000 residents which requires hiring more personnel to meet their basic safety needs while maintaining the Gold Standard of Public Service
Why do you need to increase the millage by so much?
- The past decade, as a consequence of the Great Recession, witnessed an elimination of various dedicated state and federal revenue sources for public safety. Increasingly, local communities that can tax themselves are able to sustain current levels of services while others have witnessed a decline in the quality and quantity of public services.
- The Township population has increased significantly over the past decade, by nearly 10,000 residents, which requires more police and fire personnel in order to maintain the current quality of service provision
- The past decade has also significantly increased the mandates and requirements for public safety departments and personnel including, but not limited to:
- Equipping police vehicles with in-car videos and computer hardware and software
- Requiring fire personnel to be multi-faceted in their training, especially as it relates to meeting the needs of an aging population and responding to health-related 911 emergencies
- Equipping police officers with body cameras
- Providing for increased levels of continual trainings, including in the areas of equity, social justice, opioid crises management, domestic terrorism, etc.
- Coordinating not just with state and federal law enforcement authorities but as well with local and state mental health and social work agencies
- Increased reporting and bureaucratic requirements imposed on local law enforcement agencies by the state and federal authorities
- Goal to increase self-reporting by the Township to provide for full disclosure and transparency with regard to use of force, traffic stops, police pursuits, and citizen complaints
- Significant increased costs related to electronic data storage, sharing, and security; Information system security (particularly as related to electronic data sharing with federal and state authorities) and associated infrastructure management and upgrades of computer hardware and software to maximize cyber security