Frequently Asked Questions about the Public Safety Millage
What specific language will appear on the November 2nd ballot?
Public Safety Millage Proposal
As a replacement of the existing 1.95 mills previously authorized for public safety purposes expiring in 2021, shall the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be imposed on taxable property within the Charter Township of Pittsfield, County of Washtenaw, Michigan be increased in an amount not to exceed 2.95 mills ($2.95 on each $1,000.00 of taxable value), for a period of 5 years, beginning in the year 2021 and ending in the year 2025, inclusive, as new additional millage for the purpose of providing funds to the Department of Public Safety for operating expenses; for sworn police officers, firefighters and support personnel; for replacement and additional fire apparatus and equipment acquisition; for improvements, renovations, repair and maintenance of existing facilities; and for related program support for the Department of Public Safety? It is estimated that 2.95 mills would raise approximately $6,528,207 when first levied in 2021.
How much do I pay in property taxes?
For FY 2021, the Township levy is 6.3 mills, which will collect $734.54 from a home with a taxable value of $110,000 (and a market value of $220,000). For more information, please visit the millage website at www.pittsfield-mi.gov/dpsmillage.
How much will my property taxes go up if the 1-mill increase in the public safety millage is approved?
Why do we need to pay more in taxes when there is so much development in Pittsfield?
Even though Assessed Values have increased since 2013 because of the development, the township did not benefit proportionately from the revenue increase by way of tax revenues. This is because the State of Michigan has a general constitutional restraint on the growth in taxable value. Specifically, Proposal “A” and the Headlee Amendment prevents local units of government from being able to share in the benefit of any substantial market growth in existing property values. Headlee requires the Township to reduce its millage when the annual growth is greater than the rate of inflation. Millage rates are rolled back (reduced) so the rate of tax revenue is no more than the rate of inflation. Proposal “A” limits revenue on a single property owner’s parcel by the inflation rate and Headlee curtails the total tax base of the Township through the millage reduction – roll back.
As a result, Pittsfield did not get back to its pre-recession taxable value until just a few years ago (2017). For more information, please visit the millage website at www.pittsfield-mi.gov/dpsmillage.
Why does Pittsfield Township need more revenue to serve a larger population? Shouldn’t the larger population – more people paying more taxes – contribute to generating more revenue for the Township?
Not just in Pittsfield Township but statewide and nationally, numerous cost of community services (COCS) studies have concluded that residential developments require more in expenditures from the local municipality they are located in as compared to the revenue they generate. This is because of the many services – local road maintenance, water and sewer maintenance, waste management – residential developments and residents require.
The results of a COCS study are in the form of an easy to understand ratio that compares how many dollars of local government services are required for every dollar in taxes collected. A ratio greater than 1.0 means that for every dollar of revenue collected from a given category of land, more than one dollar is spent on services for that land. A ratio below 1.0 means the government spends less in services for the land than it receives in tax revenue, resulting in a net gain.
These studies – conducted since the 1980s in a variety of communities throughout the country, including State of Michigan – usually conclude that residential developments contribute less in revenue than they require in government expenditures while agricultural, commercial, industrial, and open space lands contribute more in revenue than they require in expenditures.
How often do I have to pay Township taxes?
Township taxes are levied once a year on your December tax bill.
Why is there such a large projected increase in expenditures in the public safety budget?
Increases in the public safety budget are associated with additional police and support personnel, fire apparatus, and replacement/upgrade of public safety equipment over the next five years. For more information, please visit the millage website at www.pittsfield-mi.gov/dpsmillage.
60% of public safety revenue comes from the General Fund, what has this percentage been dating back to 2009?
Prior to 2012 and the current administration there was no clear understanding or transparency in terms of how much the General Fund supported public safety services. The lump-sum transfers were instituted in 2012, when the steep declines in revenue due to the Great Recession stabilized, to ensure full transparency and tracking of taxpayer dollars by cost-center and public service provision.
Why are you requesting a 5-year millage?
The current countywide public safety & mental health millage expires in 2026 (5-years). By requesting a 5-year Township public safety millage, we will be able to align with the county’s timeline so all future taxes – township and other – are imposed in context of each other and no one feels like they are being double-taxed for the same service.
If the 1 mill tax increase does not go through in November, what will happen?
If the 1-mill increase request is voted down in November, the Township will have to undertake immediate staffing and other cost reduction steps. In order to continue providing any police and/or fire services, the Township will need to come back with another millage request for some public safety revenue, as determined by the Board of Trustees.
Will the 1-mill increase in public safety millage allow the Township to increase its expenditures for non-public safety services?
No. In fact, the General Fund is increasing contributions to the public safety millage fund over the course of the next 5 years to make up for the failure of the 3.95 millage request, which was on the ballot earlier this year. General Fund will need to contribute $6.75M (it currently contributes $6M) by 2025 to maintain public safety services.
How will public safety services be impacted if the 1 mill increase request fails?
Failure to approve the Public Safety millage will require Pittsfield Township to, among other things:
- Reduce police officer staffing
- Reduce firefighter staffing
- Maintain or cut salaries that may impact the quality of our workforce
- Defer many of our racial equity initiatives and programs
- Eliminate some essential training programs for police and fire personnel
- Extend equipment and vehicle lifespan beyond accepted best practices and standards
- Reduce attendance by police and fire personnel at community education and safety awareness events including opioid crises, domestic and sexual assault, and active shooter
- Require longer wait times for both emergency and non-emergency responses by police and fire
How will new officers affect staffing per shift?
If the 1-mill increase request is approved, the Township is projecting to hire 8 additional police officers over the course of the next 5 years. These 8 personnel will provide for:
- Neighborhood patrols, safety and engagement
- Traffic safety, education and awareness
- Detective bureau – Major, violent and forensic crime investigation
- Commercial vehicle enforcement
- Community outreach and engagement
How many police officers are on the road and how many are at headquarters currently?
- Patrol services – 22 officers who cover 3 shifts. With shift relief and time off, typically, each shift will have 3-5 officers working.
- Patrol Supervision - 6 sergeants, 1 lieutenant. With shift relief and time off, a minimum of one supervisor per shift is maintained.
- Investigations – 1 lieutenant, 1 sergeant, 5 investigators
- Support – 1 court/property officer, 1 school officer
- Administration - 1 director
Does the millage take into account pension cost and health care cost?
Yes, those costs are forecasted and included in the Public Safety budget. For more information, please visit the millage website at www.pittsfield-mi.gov/dpsmillage.
Commercial Vehicle Enforcement – Does the department have a way to go after the heavy truck traffic for violations that could also create more revenue?
The Township will include commercial vehicle enforcement duties as part of the traffic safety position if the 1-mill increase is approved.
Why would you cut police officers and other first responders instead of administrative staff if the millage increase isn’t approved?
We currently have only 3 full-time administrative positions supporting an employee base of 75 public safety personnel. We do not know how to reduce that level any further.
How will this current proposal impact the DPS budget and working with the unions?
The current Township administration has the distinction of working amicably with all public safety unions for over a decade. We have done this through interest-based bargaining which has allowed us to significantly reduce health care and other legacy costs while working to foster the professional growth of our police and fire personnel. Fiscal Stewardship | Pittsfield Charter Township, MI - Official Website (pittsfield-mi.gov)
How has the township used grant monies to support its public safety operations?
The Public Safety department has been awarded over twenty grants since 2009 that provided funds of over $1.5 million to support the following purchases, improvements, and initiatives:
- In-car cameras
- Bulletproof vests
- CrimeView Dashboard
- Crime prevention education
- Security cameras/DVR system for interview rooms
- Firefighting foam
- Thermal imaging and CCTV camera technology
- Self-contained breathing apparatus
- Fire hose
- Firefighting gear (pants, jackets, boots, helmets, gloves, flame-resistant hoods)
- Fire burn and tactical operations training simulator
- Traffic safety equipment
- Radar speed signs
- Fire tanker vehicle acquisition
- Extrication equipment
The township still actively seeks grant opportunities and has a number of pending applications, waiting for award update including:
- Ladder – FEMA for 1.1 million (our match would be $99, 954) - February
- Thermal Imaging Cameras – FEMA for $23,000 (our match would be $2,090) - February
- AED/CPR Devices – FEMA for $72,611 (our match would be $6,600) - February
- SAFER – FEMA for $669, 100 (no match) – March
- Body Worn Cameras - DOJ for $322,834 (our match would be $161,417) - July 2021
What grants has the township received during the pandemic to support its public safety services?
- $142,620.46, July 2020: COVID PPE Regional Grant through FEMA / State of Michigan
- $31,596.00, August 2020: Coronavirus Relief SLRGG through Dept. of Treasury
- $283,030.00, August 2020: Public Safety Public Health through Dept. of Treasury
- $63,000.00, September 2020: First Responder Hazard Pay through MI CARES Act
- $22,440.00, November 2020: COVID Equipment and OT reimbursement through U.S. Dept. of Justice / MSP / JAG
- $95,730.02, December 2020: COVID Public Safety Assistance through FEMA / State of Michigan
How is the township planning to spend the Rescue Plan stimulus monies?
One of the major criteria to qualify to receive the Rescue Plan stimulus monies is to improve infrastructure, therefore 80-90% of the approximately $4 million of stimulus monies will be used by the township to cover infrastructure upgrades including sewer and roads.
Are we eligible for federal, state, and other grants that can assist us in offsetting our expenses?
The township aggressively seeks all state and federal grant opportunities. The township has been very successful with grant funding for fire operations, there is not a lot of funding available for police operations – although we do seek grant funding for both fire and police operations whenever possible. Grant Funding | Pittsfield Charter Township, MI - Official Website (pittsfield-mi.gov)
What is the amount of property taxes per average single-family home vs average apartment dweller?
Apartments cannot be compared with single family home tax rates. Apartments are commercial properties and owners are liable for the property taxes and they pay taxes at the non-homestead rate.
Commercial property is subject to the school operating millage. Typically they pay an additional 18 mills (equates to an additional $18 for every $1,000 taxable dollars).
Single family homeowners pay taxes based on the taxable value of their home at the homestead millage rate. Taxable value for each property is recalculated annually as follows: Prior year taxable value minus any physical loss times the inflation rate plus any new physical improvements to the property.
Typically, the longer you own a property the lower your taxable value therefore your tax bill is lower. This reduction in tax revenue is due to only being allowed to increase with the rate of inflation or 5% whichever is less (Proposal “A”). The assessment and SEV reflect the market value but taxes are paid on the taxable value and not the assessed value.
What is the current Fire Insurance Rating for the Twp.? How can residents get fire insurance rating information to share with their insurance carriers?
Pittsfield Township is classified by the Insurance Services Office (ISO) as a Category 4 in areas with fire hydrant water supply and a Category 4Y in areas without fire hydrant water supply.
ISO issues fire insurance ratings by collecting information on municipal fire-protection capabilities in communities throughout the United States. In each of those communities, ISO analyzes the relevant data of the following: fire department capability (staffing, equipment, training and station locations), dispatch center capability, and the municipal water system. The best possible ISO rating is Category 1 (only 60 fire departments in the country currently maintain Category 1) and the worst is Category 10. There are 40,964 fire departments with an ISO rating higher/worse than Category 4, 4,524 fire departments with an ISO rating of Category 4, and only 2,598 fire departments with an ISO rating lower/better than Category 4.
Residents can obtain ISO fire protection ratings by calling their insurance carrier/company or the Fire Department (Fire Marshal or Fire Chief). Not all insurance companies use ISO ratings for fire insurance rates. Residents can ask their insurance company if they use the ISO rating, and if so, ask for their fire department’s rating. The Fire Department is proud of its fire-protection capabilities and will provide its ISO fire rating information to insurance companies, residents and business owners.
Has the Township had conversations about making public safety changes in response to recent national public safety conversations? If so, how are these changes expected to impact expenses?
There are several things that we have done over the last year or so. One thing that the Township has decided to do is provide all of our police officers with body-worn cameras, which has a budget impact. Many of the initiatives that we are taking do not have any budget impact. We have made several policy changes to support current national initiatives, including support of the #8CANTWAIT campaign. Additionally, the Township conducted a Community Survey for Public Safety services in November to obtain resident input and feedback about our public safety department and the services it provides.
What are “support services”?
Administrative support, records/front desk staff, Director of Public Safety, Fire Chief, crossing guards, and similar areas that support the primary functions of the public safety department.
How much did the May ’21 millage cost to the community?
The May 2021 elections cost approximately $20,000.
Can we get more details about what the millage is for?
Yes. We have outlined all expenditures on the millage website at www.pittsfield-mi.gov/dpsmillage. The public safety millage supports primary operations for police and fire services provided to the township community. It includes, but is not limited to; response to investigations of criminal offenses and fires, crime prevention, fire prevention, traffic safety, school safety, critical incident/natural disaster response and mitigation, and other efforts facilitating engagement and community-centric policing.
Does PTDPS have an emergency notification system similar to the WCSD for emergencies?
We utilize Nixle through the sheriff’s office Metro Dispatch and there is also a new text-to-911 system in development. We also use the Notify Me system through the Township website at www.pittsfield-mi.gov/notifyme where residents can subscribe to receive various notifications and alerts about topics they are interested in.