October 25, 2014

Sims to end police agreement with AuGres

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
Posted

AuGRES — Sims Township Supervisor Rodney Francis has informed AuGres city officials that they will be pulling out of the police protection agreement the two municipalities have shared for decades.

AuGres Mayor Lavern Dittenber said the city has not received an official notification, but once it does Sims Township will no longer receive police coverage from the department, though the Arenac County Sheriff’s Department will still cover the township.

Dittenber said the city has not had the chance to decide on its next step, but the subject would be on the agenda at the next city council meeting on Tuesday, March 6.

“From my point of view, AuGres will have a police force,” Dittenber said.

AuGres officials were interested in amending the agreement after determining the city could no longer afford to fund the department at current levels. The city’s portion of the department’s budget was $85,000, but the 3-mill millage residents pay to finance the department only raised $64,000.

Dittenber said officials have felt for years the funding rates were “not equitable,” since Sims Township residents were only paying 1-mill for their portion despite having a comparable population and more ground to cover.

“From the city’s standpoint, we pay three times as much for the same amount of coverage,” Dittenber said.

While AuGres has received grants from the Saginaw-Chippewa Tribe to help finance the department, Lavonne Pritchard, the city’s deputy treasurer, told the Independent last week the city has had to delve into the police fund balance to cover its portion of the department’s $170,000 total budget.

AuGres city and Sims Township had planned on joint presentations to AuGres Township and Whitney Township to see if officials there were interested in adding official police coverage, but those were canceled after Supervisor Francis’ notification to the city.

AuGres Township Clerk Michael Oxley said the presentation was canceled on short notice and without explanation.

“They called Monday to let me know they were not showing up, and I don’t know what’s up,” Oxley said during the township board’s meeting Monday, Feb. 13.

Sims Township Supervisor Francis could not be reached at press time.

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