October 23, 2014

Sheriff Department road patrol millage up for renewal

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
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ARENAC COUNTY — The Arenac County Sheriff’s Department road patrol millage is up for renewal on the Aug. 7 ballot, where the department will seek a four-year, 1-mill renewal.

The millage is expected to raise an estimated $542,396 in the first year, according to Sheriff James Mosciski, and finances the road patrol program. This includes officer wages and benefits, vehicle and equipment purchases, equipment maintenance, and other operating expenses. The sheriff’s department had spent $595,030 for this year’s road patrol.

Millage amounts are determined by the taxable value of property; 1 mill is the equivalent of $1 for each $1,000 of taxable value.

The road patrol is responsible for going throughout the county, answering complaint and emergency calls regarding everything from breaking and entering incidents to accidents, Mosciski said.

“Without it, we’d be in a lot of trouble,” Mosciski said. “We need it in order to maintain the department and the road patrol.”

The road patrol millage was initially passed in 1989 at 1 mill. Prior to that point smaller municipalities and the county paid for the county’s road patrol, but after the county board of commissioners voted to cut funding for the program, the department sought a millage to make up for it.

According to Mosciski, if the millage does not pass, the entire road patrol would have to be cut.

“Seven officers would have to be laid off,” Mosciski said. “We wouldn’t have the road patrol 416 grant from the office of planning and safety, either.”

The grant, established in the Secondary Road Patrol public act 416 of 1978, provides funding for counties to patrol roads outside of cities and villages. To be eligible, however, a county must already be funding a road patrol.

Mosciski said if the millage failed, the department would look into having local municipalities finance the road patrol, but added many townships are on tight budgets and would be hard-pressed to fund it. Since Au Gres and Standish already operate their own police forces, they would still have someone on the road to patrol the city, he said.

The millage will be on the ballot countywide.

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