Brimfield trustees held an emergency meeting Monday to consider placing a tax levy on the November ballot to fund the township’s police department. How much, and how to encourage voters to approve it, are still unresolved questions.
For any levy, trustees must determine how much money is needed and forward the request to the county auditor, who then certifies the millage and notifies the trustees. The trustees can then pass a resolution to have it placed on the ballot.
Taking into consideration Brimfield’s current and projected five-year growth, Police Chief Roy Mosley told trustees he envisions needing two additional officers, raising the department from 18 full-time officers to 20. He said he also needs money to train officers, to upgrade body cams, and to maintain the department’s cruiser fleet and to outfit the vehicles with protective shields. (The Portager could not ascertain the cost of these requests.)
The township police department currently has three continuous levies in place: a 2.7 mill levy voters approved in 2006, a 2.9 mill levy approved in 2012, and a 2.9 mill levy passed in 2016.
Though the trustees debated how best to package the proposed levy into one voters might find palatable, they all agreed that they are in for a significant marketing campaign.
Voters may not understand that the 7.3 mill renewal levy and additional 11.75 mill school levies they approved in 2019 have nothing to do with funding the police department, Trustee Sue Fields said.
Voters may also not know that as more homes are built in Brimfield, the actual amount each homeowner pays to support the police department is reduced, Trustee Mike Kostensky said. That’s because levies can never exceed the amount they were initially intended to raise.
Combining all the levies into one and asking for approval of what could be an almost 10-mill levy bid is a big ask, Trustee Nic Coia said. Voters are unlikely to understand that much of the millage will not be new dollars coming out of their pockets.
However, asking for more than one levy, even if the final result would only generate the amount Mosley says is needed, is a sure-fire way that at least one levy bid would fail, trustees agreed. Also, with some Social Security payments slated to decrease, asking Brimfield’s older population to approve an additional levy is a huge request, Kostensky said.
Trustees expect to make a final decision on Monday, June 28, during their scheduled 3 p.m. meeting.
Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.