December 5, 2016

Sims Township wants AuGres to find police funding

Township will have police, says Sims Supervisor

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

SIMS TWP. — Sims Township Supervisor Rodney Francis countered allegations that the township would break from a cooperative police agreement with the city of AuGres, amid concerns AuGres will not be able to pay its share of the department’s funding.

The trouble started earlier this month, when AuGres notified Sims Township officials it would not have the money to fund its share of the AuGres-Sims Police Department budget in the next fiscal year. Both municipalities are obligated to pay $85,000, and raise the money primarily through millages.

Francis said the Sims Township Board rejected reducing joint operations and raising the millage rate for Sims Township.

“We want to continue equal payments,” Francis said. “We’re not delinquent in our monetary support. They are causing the breakdown.”

A proposal to form a joint authority at 2 mills also died in the Sims Township Board. Francis said under the proposal, Sims residents would pay $156,776 annually, while AuGres residents would pay $42,240.

The crux of the disagreement, according to Francis, comes from AuGres’ Tax Increment Finance Authority (TIFA) funding. The program came about to fight urban decay and spur redevelopment projects. AuGres has operated its TIFA program since 1985, which it uses to finance public infrastructure works in the city’s downtown, such as the community library, sidewalks, water and sewer systems, street lights, and playground equipment.

TIFA funds use the 1985 taxable property values within the TIFA district — in AuGres’ case, this district falls primarily within the US-23 corridor — as a baseline value. Growth in the taxable value for properties within the district is then captured and the revenue is used to finance projects.

These funds are captured throughout the life of the TIFA department through millages the city or township operates.

AuGres Deputy Treasurer Lavonne Pritchard said the city cannot legally pick and choose which millages TIFA funds are pulled from; the only exception is school-related millages. As a result, while the police millage may raise approximately $105,000 per year, roughly $40,000 goes towards the TIFA program.

Francis said the Sims Township board, including himself, wants to see AuGres find a way to finance the police department, or let the township know it cannot fund the department.

“Either they need to get $85,000 out of the money collected, or let us know in advance they can’t stick to the agreement,” Francis said.

He said after private discussions, officials with AuGres Township and Whitney Township were not interested in joining the AuGres-Sims Police Department agreement, and said he could not be a good spokesman for the program due to his own concerns about the TIFA funding. As a result, scheduled meetings with both township boards were canceled.

If a solution is not found to the problem, Francis said the board would explore operating an independent Sims Township police department, and possibly teaming up with another municipality for shared services.

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Some points that I feel should be added here; The property owners in the city pay over three times as much for police protection as their counterparts in the township. 3.06 mils to 1 mil. Every community needs a central core, that core is typically the city. The city has used the TIFA districts funding to the benefit of not only the residents of the City of AuGres, but also to the benefit of the residents of the surrounding communities and to tourists who visit the area. Many of the residents from the surrounding communities utilize the improvements funded by the TIFA. i.e., the city pavilion and its appurtenances, the library and the various parks. I might add at no cost or contribution. If we want to play with numbers and take the percentage of the 3.06 mils that goes into the TIFA, we would find that the residents of the city are still paying more for the same service than their counterparts in the township.

Comparisons are often made about the amount paid by the residents of the various units around the area and I often hear the highly inaccurate statement that Sims township residents pay more for services than their neighboring counterparts. This is a very misleading statement. And very inflammatory. The SEV of Sims township is higher so as a whole, the TOWNSHIP, not its residents, pay a larger share. For instance, the fire department is funded by a 1 mil tax. That means a property owner with a $50,000 home pays EXACTELY the same amount for fire protection whether in Whitney township, Sims township, AuGres city OR AuGres township. Exactly the same. To the penny.

I would love to keep the police department intact. I feel that an effective department needs to have access to, and patrol in, an entire community, not just a small chunk of it. It is very rare for an investigation not to involve people and places that cross governmental boundaries. To split the department would handcuff, (pun intended), future investigations and diminish the effectiveness of same. It has always been my hope that we could include AuGres Township and Whitney Township in a true community public safety department, but until the outlying communities can see what value the communities’ core has, this will never happen.

I have some firsthand knowledge on these issues as I chair the AuGres-Sims Police Board but it is not in that capacity that I felt compelled to respond to this article.

Respectfully submitted, Joe Warr.

Friday, February 17, 2012 | Report this

I do not understand why the SMALL town of AuGres needs two deputies. We live one mile out of town and never see either of these men riding the back roads. Maybe these two deputies are only supposed to be concerned with AuGres--wonder what they do all day? The semis plus other trucks and automobiles go through AuGres at 50 miles an hour--do wish at least one of these AuGres deputies would go out there and stop them. When you go through Tawas and you see a speed limit of 35, you slow down immediately because their police department does their job. Where are the AuGres deputies when you need them? As far as AuGres and TIFA, it is too bad that money couldn't be used to encourage new businesses to come in. Lots of wonderful sidewalks and lights, etc. which by the way do not get snow plowed in the winter by the city so people who want to walk still have to use the highway.

By the way, if you cannot pay for the service you want (AuGres city) perhaps you should be rethinking your priorities. I believe the Arenac County deputies do an excellent job in this area.

Monday, February 20, 2012 | Report this

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