Pittsfield Township Voters Rejected A Public Safety Millage Increase. Now What?

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Pittsfield Township residents rejected a proposal to increase the public safety millage, early this month. Township leadership told the Sun Times News that while they were disappointed in the result, they would meet back with elected officials and set to work on a draft for a new millage increase proposal by mid-summer, to go on the November ballot.

“We, of course, are disappointed that the millage proposal failed, but we certainly respect the decision of our voters,” Pittsfield Township Directory of Public Safety Matthew Harshberger told the Sun Times News via email. While he reiterated his departments commitment to protecting the community, he added “Our current public safety millage runs out at the end of this year, so we absolutely must return in November with another ballot proposal for residents to reconsider.”

Only 19 percent of the Pittsfield Township’s 23,221 qualified electors showed up at the ballot box to vote the proposal to increase the millage that funds the Department of Public Safety to 3.95 mills.

The final breakdown was 2,385 votes for the proposal and 2,835 against, according to Washtenaw County. Slightly more than three quarters of the 5,220 votes were absentee votes.

Grewal speculated that the millage failed due to a great number of people being in a bad spot financially because of the coronavirus, and due to a lack of exposure to the issue in the media.

The current millage – which was passed a decade ago by a margin of 2,653 to 1,040 against – will run out at the end of the year.

Pittsfield Township has grown substantially in the decade since then. While it is true that more residents paying the millage rate generally means there are more funds available with the existing 1.9031 millage rate, there are also more expenses. Township officials say that they simply won’t be able to maintain services and staff to the public without an increase in funds. Grewal will be discussing just what the new increase proposal will be with the Board of Trustees during their regularly scheduled June meetings.

“What I can tell you for sure is that it will be a lesser amount, because one thing that was made very clear by the feedback that residents gave us is that they want us to rely more heavily on general fund money. That was made very clear from the residents, so we will be increasing the percentage of contributions from general fund, thereby reducing the public safety millage amount” Supervisor Mandy Grewal said.

Image Credit: Pittsfield Charter Township

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