Crystal Township Board approves sheriff services millage proposal

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 8:19 pm on Thursday, May 11, 2017

Crystal Township Supervisor Chris Johnston, left, addresses questions at Wednesday evening’s Crystal Township Board meeting regarding a millage proposal for police coverage in the township, as Clerk Patty Baker-Marek listens. — Daily News/Cory Smith

CRYSTAL TOWNSHIP — The decision to have a dedicated police presence in this township will now be up to its residents come election time in August.

During Wednesday evening’s Crystal Township Board meeting, the board unanimously approved a resolution to place a police services millage renewal proposal on the Aug. 8 ballot.

According to the proposal, the current 0.5 mills ($0.50 per $1,000 of taxable value) would be renewed annually for four years, from 2018 through 2021, and include an additional increase of 0.5 mills, to provide funds for police services.

If approved and levied, the millage would raise an estimated $94,855 in the first year of the levy. All or a portion of the revenues from the millage would be dispersed to the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office or other governmental agency for police services within Crystal Township.

A portion of the revenues from the millage would be captured within the district of and disbursed to the Crystal Township Downtown Development Authority.

As the current contract with the Sheriff’s Office was only 50 percent funded through the township’s previous millage, Township Clerk Patty Baker-Marek said if the upcoming millage is approved, it would not provide funding through the remainder of 2017 and the township would have to provide those funds out of the general fund for remaining police coverage expenses until 2018.

Board members raised concerns with current cost disparities between different municipalities.

“How do they determine the rates?” Trustee Curt McCracken asked. “Some townships have cheaper services.”

Municipalities contracted with Montcalm County are currently paying the following rates:

• Village of Edmore: $73,950

• Eureka, Montcalm and Sidney townships: $73,950 (scheduled to increase to $75,000 in 2018)

• Crystal Township: $75,000 (one-year contract)

• Village of Howard City: $73,960 (scheduled to increase to $75,000 in 2018)

Sheriff Mike Williams told The Daily News on Thursday that all previous rates were set by the county commissioners.

“In past years, the rates were set by the Board of Commissioners when they signed each individual contract,” he said. “Crystal signed a one-year contract last year and that’s what they set the rate at. I don’t know if it was because it was a one-year (contract) instead of a three-year (contract) like the others (municipalities) or not.”

In April, county commissioners voted to set the annual contract rate with all municipalities at $75,000, beginning in 2019.

They are all going to go up to what we are paying, so I guess it will even out,” McCracken said.

Williams said should Crystal Township agree to continue to contract with the Sheriff’s Office up until 2019, they will be guaranteed a rate not to exceed $75,000.

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