Millage renewals slated for May ballot

Road patrol seeking rate increase

ESCANABA — A pair of millage renewal requests are set to appear on Delta County’s May 7 ballot. Ballot language for renewal requests for the Delta County Central Dispatch (DCCD) Authority and road patrol millages was approved by the Delta County Board of Commissioners during its meeting Tuesday.

For the road patrol millage request, voters will be asked to support a millage increase. If this is approved, the road patrol millage will grow from its current rate of 0.9 mills to a new rate of up to 1.3 mills.

“We would like to account for the future of law enforcement in Delta County and continue to provide this service to the townships,” Delta County Administrator Philip Strom said.

Strom said the renewal of the existing road patrol millage and the requested increase will not be handled separately on the upcoming ballot.

“That will be done with one ballot question to the voters in the May special election,” he said.

The millage language reads: “For the purpose of funding road patrol, search and rescue services and operations of the Delta County Sheriff’s Office and any other law enforcement purpose authorized by law, shall the County of Delta be authorized to levy an amount not to exceed 1.3 mills ($1.30 for each $1,000 of taxable value), of which .90 mill is a renewal of the previously authorized millage rate that expires in 2019 and .40 mill is new additional millage, against all taxable property within Delta County for a period of ten (10) years, 2020 to 2029, inclusive The estimate of the revenue the County will collect in the first year of levy (2020) if the millage is approved and levied by the County is approximately $1,550,000. In accordance with state law, a small portion of the millage raised may be disbursed to the Local Downtown Development and Local Brownfield Redevelopment Authorities.”

Unlike the road patrol millage request, the DCCD Authority millage request is simply for a renewal of the existing millage. This millage’s current rate is up to 0.75 mills.

The millage language for this request reads:

“For the purpose of providing continued funding to operate, furnish, and equip the Delta County 911 Emergency telephone answering and dispatch system, shall the County of Delta be authorized to renew the levy of an amount not to exceed .75 mills ($.75 per each $1,000 of taxable value), against all taxable property within Delta County for a period of ten (5) years [sic], 2020 to 2024, inclusive? The estimate of the revenue the County would collect in the first year of levy (2020) if the millage is approved and levied in full by the County is approximately $875,000. In accordance with state law, a small portion of the millage raised may be disbursed to the Local Downtown Development and Local Brownfield Redevelopment Authorities.”

Sheriff Ed Oswald said he had spoken with representatives of other counties about road patrol millages. A number of these counties did not have dedicated road patrol millages of their own; instead, they had higher charter millages to cover their road patrol expenses.

Other counties Oswald spoke with that did not have road patrol millages had law enforcement in their townships, making these departments responsible for handling road patrol.

While Delta County’s road patrol has previously been supplemented by grants, Oswald said this has not proven to be sustainable.

“Grants that we’ve gotten in the past have dried up,” he said.

Strom thanked Oswald for his involvement in the research process for the road patrol millage increase request.

“He’s brought some really good information to the table,” he said.

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