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Royal Oak Public Safety Millage: Volunteers Gear Up

Royal Oak City Commission unanimously seeks public safety millage. Citizens group forms to campaign for its approval.

Royal Oak citizens have organized as the Friends of Royal Oak Public Safety to campaign for the success of a 3.975 mill property tax on the November ballot.

After years of belt-tightening, including pay reductions by union employees and an overall workforce reduction of 25 percent, the Royal Oak City Commission voted unanimously on August 24 to seek the five-year property tax dedicated to restoring the levels of fire, police and emergency medical services.

The Friends committee, chaired by longtime civic leader Clyde Esbri, will hold a fundraising event at on Thursday, September 27 from 6:30-10 p.m. The $30 ticket includes appetizers donated by and the performance by comic Chris Porter. There will be a silent auction of items donated by local businesses. Tickets may be purchased at comedycastle.com.

The Friends will also host a town hall discussion on Wednesday, September 19 at 7 p.m. at , 506 E. 13 Mile Road in Royal Oak. City Mayor Jim Ellison will speak, joined by City Manager Don Johnson and police and fire department representatives.

Funds from the millage would accomplish the following:

  • Bring the number of sworn police officers to 79, a number established in an independent study to be the minimum for effective policing in the city of 57,236. The city currently has 66 officers, down from 103 10 years ago.
  • Continue to provide advanced life support emergency medical services, avoiding the possibility of a reduction to basic life support
  • Offset the spring, 2013 expiration of a $2.5 million federal fire grant.
  •  Maintain minimum fire department on-duty staffing of 14, keep three stations open and two ambulances operating.
  • Add an assistant city attorney
  • Restore two code enforcement officers

“We have to keep Royal Oak relevant,” Mayor Ellison said. “Property tax revenue and state revenue sharing have plummeted. We have an obligation to protect the value of our homes and businesses and the character of our community.”

The Friends can be reached through their website, RoyalOakYesOnA.com.

Infomation provided by Friends of Royal Oak Public Safety

Debbie Campbell September 20, 2012 at 10:33 AM
Mr. Ronan—concerning the cost of cross-training to create a Public Safety Department- I believe your number of 130 employees that would need to be trained is high—As Rick Karlowski points out the Fire Dept is extremely heavy on the admin end—No doubt some of those cost heavy positions could be whittled down if departments were combined—in addition to the 20% savings-- Look at the huge over-all savings that would create in the long run…pension costs etc… I’d support a millage to cover the cost of combining Departments and cross-training— I can’t support this millage to keep the “business as usual” BEAST alive-- It’s not sustainable and does nothing to fix the root problem--It’s simply a bandaid that has residents paying for extra security for more bars and festivals.
Terry G. September 20, 2012 at 01:15 PM
I'm somewhat confused here about the cross training/combining/etc. Didn't the company that reviewed the city (I believe it's the company that has suggested we hire more police) also suggest that the P.D. be broken into two sections, which would indicate having 2 chiefs - one for each section? I'm hoping someone else remember that or I'll have to go digging to find it again.
Rick Karlowski September 20, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Terry G - No, the study did not propose two separate police departments. It basically recommend the DDA be its own "Precient" with a dedicated detail and supervisory personnel (not a separate chief). This was based on the unique aspects of the downtown, and to provide sufficient manpower to adequately police the district and help prevent issues.
Ronald Wolf September 20, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Debbie, you know you are a hero to myself and many Patch readers. That the beast exists and is not a fairytale is true, it is fed by greed, This is why our antiquated city charter and commssion system needs a radical overhall. As the beast now matter how poorly it is serving us, as so perfectly demonstrated by its cave in to Arts Beats and Eats, and previously a handful of downtown bars, it is still works somewhat. I do not see how crippling it to a point where recovery is in question is going to make us any safer from crime, or illness requiring an ambulance response. I wish you could have attended the town hall lecture where the wheat was seperated from the chaff. RO does have a way below average milage compared to surrounding communities that do not attract as many tourists as we do, The one exception being Troy. Unless we have a special election that would be risky as special elections historically have low turnouts I would suggest supporting this band aid for the present time. To implement even a study we will need enough like minded people and after seeing the poor turnout on Wednsday I believe there will be no rush to do what you, Rick,Ted and so many other concerned dyed in the wool Oakies suggest.
LWS September 20, 2012 at 04:57 PM
To Mr. Ronan- I recently had a chance to speak to a retired Royal Oak fire chief. He is a family friend. I don't want to drag him into this debate personally. He says that the city has never, repeat never, complied with the minimum staffing requirement of the minimum staffing charter amendment. Even as of today, he said they are staffed below the requirement. I'm not sure if your figures are accurate, or if the city didn't allow the positions to be filled, but per the former chief, he said he had to deal with the threat of grievances from the fire union over the staffing issue.

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