Residents worry about township's process around millage ending - WNEM TV 5

Residents worry about township's process around millage ending

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

A fire protection millage ends next month in one Mid-Michigan town and it could lead to downsizing of emergency crews.

Local leaders have a plan to save those jobs, but it's causing residents to raise a red flag.

The plan calls for a special assessment tax rather than having the public vote on a millage renewal. Unless a certain number of residents appeal, that tax will go through.

That process has residents worried about setting a new precedent, leaving voters without a voice.

Bangor Township's safety millage is coming to an end and usually that means asking voters for a renewal or increase.

"That millage is specifically for equipment and the fire marshal's position. So 10 years of savings has generated $30,000. But we have quite a bit of equipment that needs to be replaced at this time," Bangor Township Fire Chief Rob Glenn said.

Some viewers reached out to TV5 to ask the tough questions after they received a notice of a "special assessment."

The township notified taxpayers they would continue to pay the same amount as they were under the millage, but without voting on it.

However, to push it through the township needs all but 10 percent of residents to support it.

Township Supervisor Glenn Rowley said failure of the assessment could result in firefighters losing their jobs.

"What we need to have is 90 percent of the people in favor of it and if the millage or special assessment does not go through, we're probably going to have to look at laying off firefighters," Rowley said.

Rowley said the special assessment will not only help to fund Bangor Township's fire department, but also cost taxpayers a lot less than they might be expecting.

"We have our contract for trash pickup. It's spread out amongst all of the residents of the township. This will be done in the same way. And in a lot of cases, if this goes through, you're going to pay less for fire protection than you will to have your trash removed once a week," Rowley said.

The notice was sent out on Sept. 20 and the deadline for people to object is Tuesday, Oct. 10. That's when the township will hold a public hearing open to both residents and business owners.

Rowley said they can object either in person or through a written letter.

"And if it does exceed or makes it to that 10 percent, than we won't go through with this," Rowley said.

Rowley said if the special assessment goes through it will remain in effect for five years.

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