In notoriously political West Bloomfield Township, Supervisor Michele Economou Ureste is under fire after she and her husband reportedly received a ride home from a township police officer after her husband was pulled over in the early morning hours of Aug. 13 and given a preliminary breath test that allegedly indicated he had a blood-alcohol content above the legal limit. So be it. Township voters have the right to be upset about the situation. But we urge them to not let this controversy — no matter how it appears — affect their vote in November on a public safety millage proposal.
The township will ask its residents in two separate ballot questions to renew the township’s existing public safety millage at its current rate of 3.1378 mills for 10 years beginning in 2012, and also ask for an 11-year increase of 2.85 mills beginning this year.
A mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of a property’s taxable value. The owner of a township property with a taxable value of $100,000 ($200,000 market value) currently pays $313.78 a year in property taxes for public safety services and would continue to pay that amount if the existing millage is renewed.
The ballot language states that if the renewal is approved, the township would be authorized to collect up to $9.94 million in the first year.
If the 2.85-mill increase is also approved, that same property owner would pay an additional $285 a year and the township would be authorized to collect up to $9.03 million in new tax revenue in the first year of the new collection.
As the election nears — it’s now just over two months away — West Bloomfield voters need to remember that neither Ureste nor her husband are on the ballot this time around; that won’t be until 2012. The electorate needs to keep in mind that the property tax issues should be voted up or down — and at this point we are not saying how voters should cast their ballots — based on their merits and their merits alone, not the actions or inactions of one specific township police officer, and not the actions or inactions of the township supervisor or her husband.
With a trying economy forcing the hands of communities across the state to take such drastic measures as cutting police and fire services, it’s up to the voters to determine whether those services deserve or need added public funding, or if they should be forced to take a hit.
Nowhere in that philosophical equation is what happened at the intersection of Green Lake and Richardson roads earlier this month. Whatever thoughts you have about the traffic stop debacle, those should be left at home when you go to the polls in November.