Augusta Township voters reject new police millage, will remain without regular coverage
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
Augusta Township residents will continue to live without regular police patrols.
Voters rejected a police services millage that would have restored regular Washtenaw County Sheriff'sÂ department deputy patrols to the township. The five-year, 1.8 mill tax levy was rejected Â by voters 57.4 percent to 42.7 percent. In total across all three township precincts, 1,341 residents voted no while 996 voted yes.
The tax would have generated $375,000 in revenue in its first year, which is enough to provide for two full-time deputies dedicated to Augusta Township. Residents whose homes have a taxable value of $100,000 would have paid an additional $180 annually.
"My position has been that the voters need to tell us what they want, and then we'll implement what they tell us," Township Clerk Kathy Giszczak said. "They’ve told us clearly here they don’t want to pay for police services."
There has not been regular police coverage for the last year in Augusta Township because voters previously rejected two similar millage proposals, with the last being in 2008. Because officials failed to notify the sheriff’s department that they would be terminating the township's contract after the millage failed, the township could have been forced to pay for two deputies for six months.
But township officials were able instead to negotiate a one-deputy patrol for one year at a cost of $300,000 out of its $700,000 general fund. Since the contract for one deputy expired, deputies from the sheriff’s department and troopers from the Michigan State Police force have responded to calls, but there hasn't been a regular patrol through the township.
Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton said his agency will continue to provide the best service possible given its resources. While some general fund deputies are reserved for countywide patrols, the agency covers the entire county and must shift those deputies to other jurisdictions under certain circumstances.
“We’ll attempt to do the best we can with the staff that we have to respond and serve Augusta Township as they are in Washtenaw County,” Clayton said. “But everyone knows the numbers we have and that continues to present a challenge. Still, we will continue to strive to provide the best service we can based on numbers we have available.”
The Michigan State Police will also continue to respond to calls in Augusta Township.
Several other similar police service millages were on the ballot throughout the county. In Ypsilanti Township voters approved a new 1.5 mill tax levy. In Northfield Township voters renewed a 1.4603 mill levy, while Bridgewater Township voters renewed a 1.25 mill levy.