If voters in Lake Township approve a 1.4-mill replacement levy on the Nov. 6 ballot, the additional revenue will be used to have more police officers on patrol, says Mark Hummer, the township police chief.
His goal is for the department to have a more visible presence, which he hopes will be a deterrent for criminals drifting from the Toledo area to this Wood County suburb.
“The suburban police departments have been largely successful in suppressing criminal activity with high visibility,” he said, adding that after township police recently arrested six people for a slew of break-ins to homes and vehicles, one of the men said there is “nothing left to steal in Toledo.”
The replacement levy, if passed, would be based on current property valuations and generate about $220,371 annually.
The levy now generates about $102,943 a year. It was first passed in 1980 and runs continuously.
For the owner of a $100,000 home, replacing the levy would cost just under $30 a year. That same homeowner now pays about $13.
Hummer said the department has been operating with three fewer full-time officers – due to two retirements and one disability – than it does at normal staffing levels.
“We have not replaced those officers,” he said. “This levy would solely go for personnel; to get more cops on the street. This is not a new tax. We are aware of the state of the economy and have been doing more with less ourselves. But we want to be able to provide citizens with what they need when they need us,” the chief said.
The department has tightened its own fiscal belt by dropping a contracted janitorial service – a savings of more than $9,000 a year – and by purchasing used patrol vehicles through a program offered by Michigan State University, according to the chief. Officers also do much of the routine maintenance of the vehicles and scavenge parts and equipment from the vehicles when they can be re-used.
The department also agreed to voluntarily forgo a 2 percent pay raise that would have gone into effect this year.
The township set an annual budget of about $1.4 million for the department this year, according to Vicki Schwamberger, fiscal officer. The department receives revenues from three levies.
In August, township police responded to a call of suspicious vehicles along Lemoyne Road and arrested five men and a juvenile and charged them with breaking into homes, garages, recreational vehicles, and passenger vehicles as well as auto theft and other offenses.
Between Aug. 16 and 20, reports of the offenses were filed by 20 residents – about half living in or near the Village of Millbury.
The suspects were all from Toledo.
Richard Welling, a township trustee, praised the cooperation between the township department and police from the Village of Walbridge and Perrysburg Township in the case but said additional officers are needed.
The replacement levy will affect only the unincorporated area of the township, but voters in the Village of Millbury will decide an additional 1-mill continuous levy for police service.
The village contracts with the township for police service and a 3 percent increase had been scheduled to go into effect this year.
The township trustees agreed in January, however, to a request by village officials to waive the increase.
Currently, the village is paying $65,772 a year for the service.
Michael Timmons, mayor of the village, cited declining revenues from an existing 2.1-mill property tax levy for the service as the reason for the waiver request.
The levy was originally approved in 1984 and generates about $15,000 annually – roughly what one mill would generate from current property valuations.
Village officials have had to routinely tap into the general fund to make up the difference for the cost of police service.