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Need to Know: Royal Oak's Public Safety Millage

Residents will decide a 5-year millage of up to 3.975 mills in the Nov. 6 general election.

Among the two funding issues facing Royal Oak voters in November is the city's public safety millage. The for the 5-year levy in August.

The move followed a Police Operations Analysis and Fire Operations Analysis prepared by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), a nonprofit public safety consultant, which

Millage Proposal Basics

What: Royal Oak voters will decide whether to adopt a 3.975-mill tax to support police, fire and emergency medical services.

When: Nov. 6;

Why: Ballot language reads: "Over the past eight years, the City of Royal Oak has cut its full-time work force by 25 percent. Lower tax revenues will require more reductions and impact services and programs further. This proposed 5-year police, fire and emergency medical service millage will allow Royal Oak to maintain core services."

Cost: In his , Mayor Jim Ellison told the crowd of city leaders, officials and residents that if the millage is passed, it will return city property taxes to their pre-2008 levels.  For the average household, the millage will mean an additional $270 per year, he said.

To Consider: Over the past year the city successfully settled contracts with all ten bargaining units that included pay cuts, reductions in health care benefits, increased employee contributions for pensions and health care and other concessions. This millage is good for 5 years.

Informational resources

The city's website has links to several reports that commissioners received to support the decision to seek the millage, including the following:

Public Safety Town Hall Meeting

will host a town hall discussion on Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. at , 506 E. 13 Mile Road in Royal Oak.

Mayor Jim Ellison will speak, joined by City Manager Don Johnson and police and fire department representatives.

The Duke of Royal Oak September 15, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Where can we read an actual copy of the proposal?
Judy Davids (Editor) September 15, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Here is what the Proposal A - City Charter Amendment ballot will say: Proposed Amendment to Chapter 8, Section 11 to allow for a Police, Fire and Emergency Medical Service Millage. Over the past eight years, the City of Royal Oak has cut its full-time work force by 25%. Lower tax revenues will require more reductions and impact services and programs further. This proposed 5-year police, fire and emergency medical service millage will allow Royal Oak to maintain core services. The proposed amendment to Chapter 8, Section 11, if approved, would allow the City to levy a millage for a period not to exceed five (5) years of up to 3.975 mills, to defray the costs for police, fire and emergency medical services.
Maplegrove September 15, 2012 at 03:15 PM
I calculated the millage increase for my home and it will be $348 per year. I then contacted my mortgage holders escrow department to review what this would do to my monthly payment. It was determined that I would receive an additional tax bill of $348 in December of 2012, as well as an additional bill of $348 in July 2013 if the millage passed. I would need to make up $696 in my escrow account for the next 12 months following a successful 3.95 mills passage. That equates to raising my mortgage payment by $58 in the first year of passing the millage. I cannot absorb a monthly increase like that. God bless those that can, but I can't! I support police and fire personal, but won't be voting for this millage request. Cut it in half, and I may be able to consider and afford it.
Debbie Campbell September 15, 2012 at 04:22 PM
At the safe neighborhoods dialog the Police Chief said crime is trending down and that we might wonder why the need for more officers? I believe the City Commission wants to further expand the downtown entertainment/drinking district -add more festivals and open more bars—but to do so they need money to hire more police officers—Thus the huge “public safety millage” Police chiefs have consistently recommended denial of new and expanded liquor establishments siting a strain on limited law enforcement personnel –yet this City Commission keeps on voting to open more and bigger bars and monster sized festivals-- I personally think the "party-town" entertainment aspect of our city is BIG enough—50+ liquor licenses—come-on- It’s time to focus on ‘hometown’ and not property taxing residents out of their homes with a charter busting millage increase.
Judy Davids (Editor) September 15, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Debbie - The chief's first interview might answer your first question. (Here's a link: http://patch.com/A-xrQX) O'Donohue said, while the city makes cuts, the police department continues to do what is expected of it. "People expect the same work from us," O'Donohue said. "We can't decide we are not going to do something and put residents in jeopardy, but I have to tell you - with current staffing levels - it is unsustainable." There is no doubt the chief is proud of his department, but he compared the current situation "to a circus performer spinning plates on a sticks, running from one spinning plate to another trying to keep everything in motion." And, the chief addressed the downtown issue, too. We just haven't got to his answer yet. (It's coming though!)
Debbie Campbell September 16, 2012 at 11:22 AM
When Crime has been steadily dropping for a decade—all while the police force staffing level is being cut—what specifically has precipitated the urgently "unsustainable" circumstances that calls for such a HUGE millage increase now-at this time? From the Safe Neighborhoods Dialogue--June 2012 O'Donohue presented a series of statistics that show crime is down in Royal Oak over the past decade. Crime is Dropping: 2001 2011 Robbery 50 9 Assault 956 510 Burglary 321 228 Larceny 1245 887 Stolen cars 190 108 I’m looking forward to answers to my questions concerning the downtown that I originally posted on 8/5: Since this is a “public safety” millage if it does pass, any windfall the DDA(Downtown Development Authority) gets should be spent on public safety shouldn’t it? If not, why? Will the DDA be contractually obligated before November to pay for the 5 extra downtown police officers recommended in the ICMA report, in addition to the 3 officers they already pay for? If not, why? If the “public safety” millage passes, what will the DDA’s windfall be spent on, if not public safety?
Debbie Campbell September 16, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Sorry-I couldn’t get the crime statistic table to show up properly. Crime is Dropping from 2001 to 2011 Robbery: 50-----9 Assault: 956 ----510 Burglary: 321---- 228 Larceny: 1245---- 887 Stolen cars: 190---- 108
HB September 16, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Why doesn't the city manager live in Royal Oak? Isn't that a requirement of the job? I know Hoover, Doyle and Baldridge all invested in the community that offered them a paycheck?
Ray Smith September 16, 2012 at 10:59 PM
HB, when Johnson accepted the city manager job, I remember him agreeing to move to Royal Oak as part of his contract. Are you saying he hasn't done so yet?
Larry D September 16, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Besides the extra tax paid by downtown, the downtown, partly throuth the parking system, and partly through parking ticket revenue, contributes about 1.9 million dollars per year to city services, in addition to ordinary taxation. How is that not enough?
HB September 17, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Ray, I don't think he even lives in Oakland County. I, too, remember him promising to move to Royal Oak if he was offered the job. I would think Royal Oak, or any other city would want their top employee to reside within the community. Is Royal Oak not good enough for him?
Debbie Campbell September 17, 2012 at 11:54 AM
It’s a dedicated ‘Public Safety’ millage Larry D— If the millage passes any additional tax money the DDA captures should be spent on public safety.
Rick Karlowski September 17, 2012 at 12:16 PM
The "extra tax" paid by those in the DDA district goes to the DDA, not the general fund that pays for police/fire. The "contribution" of the parking system is an accounting gimmick. Instead of funding the replacement/maintenance fund, money is transferred into the general fund. Works until the lots/structures need replacement. Then where will the money come from? You guessed - another millage increase.
B. Lewis September 17, 2012 at 03:15 PM
In yesterday's Tribune, the police chief was quoted that if the millage passed one of the things it would pay for is to add a "special events unit". That just sealed the deal that I will be voting NO on the millage.

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