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Published: Tuesday, 2/10/2009

Erie Township police levy may be moved to August vote

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

ERIE - A month after deciding to put a police levy on the May ballot, Erie Township officials are leaning to moving the issue back to the August election.

A 10-year levy for police department operations was placed on the May 5 ballot by the township board, replacing an issue that will expire at the end of 2009.

However, Clerk Jolene Upchurch said it would be more cost effective to instead have the levy go before voters in August because of mailing expenses related to notifying residents about poll changes.

As it now stands, the police operations levy and the election for two vacancies on Mason Consolidated school board are on the ballot, necessitating the township clerk to send notices to voters about changes in polling places.

At their Jan. 13 meeting, the board approved asking for a replacement of the levy to support police operations. The 1-mill tax, rolled back to 0.94 mills by state law, would be restored to full value, and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home, with a taxable value of $50,000, about $50 annually.

Clerk Cindy Baum said the tax generates about $131,500 under the rollback, providing the police department with about 32 percent of its $438,000 yearly operating budget. The rest of the money for the department comes from franchise fees collected from the landfill in the township.

The police department is staffed by a police chief, two full-time officers, and a part-time secretary.

The township board was scheduled to revisit the ballot placement of the police levy at its meeting last night. The results of the board's discussions were not available at press time.

Mrs. Upchurch said that the township will pay about $1,000 in mailing costs to send notices to voters on polling changes because the police levy and the school board elections will appear on the ballot at the same time.

"I am trying to be as conservative as I can," she said. " I don't want to spend any more of the taxpayer's money than I have to."

If the police levy doesn't appear on the August ballot, the township would also have the opportunity to place it on the November ballot.

The deadline to submit issues for the ballot and candidates to file for school board seats was yesterday.



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