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Published: 8/1/2004

Surcharges requested to update home, emergency phone systems

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Voters approved a 0.75-mill property tax in August, 2002, for the 30,000-square-foot Bedford Township library expansion. Voters approved a 0.75-mill property tax in August, 2002, for the 30,000-square-foot Bedford Township library expansion.
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MONROE - Among the many requests facing voters in Monroe and Lenawee counties Tuesday are two very similar sounding proposals that couldn't be more different.

Officials in both counties are asking voters to approve phone surcharges to help pay the cost of replacing their antiquated emergency communications systems.

In Monroe County, the request to triple the monthly surcharge from 80 cents to $2.40 for the next five years would cost a homeowner with a single line $28.80 a year, or an increase of $18.20. Those with extra lines - including commercial operations - would pay an identical surcharge on each line. The surcharge would raise an estimated $2.3 million a year.

Lenawee County residents will be asked to increase their 72-cent surcharge per phone line to $2.52 a month for two years to raise $3.2 million in 2005-06. The money will help update the county's emergency radio service, and provide funding to hire employees and expand the cramped 911 system center in the sheriff's department.

But while Lenawee's proposed fix would simply enhance the emergency radio service in use by law enforcement, firefighters, and medical technicians across the county, its eastern neighbor is in the process of a $9.3 million overhaul of 50-year-old system.

Emergency workers in Monroe County will join the statewide 800 megahertz communications system operated by the Michigan State Police later this year, thanks to a $6 million federal grant that is paying most of the cost of the upgrade.

The remaining costs - a $3.3 million loan, construction of a dispatch center outside of the 10-mile evacuation radius of the Fermi II Nuclear Power Plant, and annual microphone fees for the municipalities on the system - will be covered by the county if the surcharge is approved.

Also facing voters in Monroe County are a pair of requests to fund two of the most consistently popular local programs, the Monroe County Library System and activities for senior citizens.

Monroe County is seeking to replace two smaller library millages with a single and slightly larger 1-mill property tax that would be used to help expand hours and services at the Library Services' 16 branch locations. The millage would generate about $5.1 million a year, or about $900,000 more than the two smaller levies generate, and would cost the owner of a $150,000 home with a state equalized value of $75,000 a total of $75 a year.

County voters are also being asked to renew a 0.5-mill levy that funds senior citizen services, such as meals, transportation, and local senior centers such as the one in Bedford Township.

Voters in four townships in Monroe County and 11 in Lenawee County also face local tax questions on the Aug. 3 ballot. They are:

Monroe County

Bedford Township: four-year increase from 0.1-mill to 0.2-mills to pay for Dial-A-Ride service from Lake Erie Transit.

Ida Township: four-year, 0.5-mill renewal levy for fire operations and equipment.

Summerfield Township: four-year, 2-mill renewal levy for fire operations and equipment; 1.0-mill, four-year renewal levy for road repairs.

Whiteford Township: five-year, 1-mill renewal levy for fire operations and equipment; four-year, 1-mill renewal levy for road repairs.

Lenawee County

Blissfield Township: two-year, 1-mill renewal levy for fire operations and equipment; two-year, 1-mill renewal levy for road repairs.

Cambridge Township: four-year, 1.25-mill renewal levy for fire and police operations and maintenance.

Deerfield Township: one-year, 3-mill renewal levy for road and bridge repairs; one-year, 0.5-mill renewal levy for fire equipment and maintenance; one-year, 0.25-mill renewal levy for fire operations.

Fairfield Township: four-year, 1.5-mill renewal levy for fire operations and equipment; four-year, 2-mill renewal levy for road repairs.

Hudson Township: three-year 2-mill renewal for road and bridge repairs.

Macon Township: four-year, 1-mill renewal for road repairs.

Medina Township: four-year, 2-mill renewal for road repairs; four-year, 2-mill increase for additional road and bridge repairs. Ridgeway Township: six-year, 1-mill renewal for road and bridge repair; four-year, 1-mill renewal levy for fire department equipment; four-year, 1-mill renewal for fire operations and road and bridge repair.

Riga Township: one-year, 2-mill renewal for road and bridge repair; one-year, 1.0-mill renewal for fire operations; one-year, 2-mill increase for road and bridge repairs.

Rome Township: four-year, 2-mill increase for road and bridge repairs.

Woodstock Township: three-year, 1-mill renewal levy for fire operations.



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