The Gaines Township police force is no more.
“I’m having a hard time holding this together just talking to you. This is my family,” said Gaines Twp. Police Chief Mark Schmitzer.
The Township doesn’t have the money to support the police force.
The chief, two officers, detective and secretary. The whole department had a budget of $174 thousand a year.
“That’s wages, insurance, operation of vehicles, the guys here and myself get paid absolutely zero benefits. There’s no vacation, there’s no health insurance and there’s no paid time off,” Schmitzer said.
Chief Schmitzer was melancholy as his coworkers turned in their equipment. Schmitzer will try to see the open cases close and state police will take over calls.
“Our normal response time when on duty is 5-8 minutes. Normal response time for state police is a half hour coming from another jurisdiction,” Schmitzer said.
Diane Hyrman is the township treasurer.
“it went down big time last time,” Hyrman said. “Is there anything the township board can do? Is there a vote they can do to help them? The township does have the ability, we do have the right to push it down their throat. We could do a special assessment and just say take it. We can do that, we have the right. But we’d rather take it to the people and have them tell us they want this.”
That is why come May 4, voters are being asked to approve a property tax increase of 89 mills. Which would cost the owner of a $100,00 home around 44.50 annually.
This is the only way to save the department.
“If the millage fails, I will assist the township in shutting down the police department and eliminating police equipment. And when that is done, I will be done,” Hyrman said.