(03/21/13) - How to pay for public safety has been a big concern for Mid-Michigan communities.
Millages, or tax increases, have been popular options.
Mt. Morris Township voters will be asked to support a millage increase during a special election in May.
What does that mean for the average homeowner? About $135 more in taxes each year to essentially keep police and fire services as they are now - to help avoid police officer cuts and to allow the fire department to update outdated equipment.
Grocery shoppers at Beaver's Great Giant Market Thursday didn't know much about the proposal to increase the millage, but resident Cleophus Smith says he'd do his part and vote yes.
"If it would better [for] our community, I wouldn't mind paying more," Smith said.
"I hate that we're asking for this now," said Mt. Morris Township Police Chief Scott McKenna.
McKenna says the police and fire departments both desperately need the money. McKenna says at least seven of his 27 officers would be cut if the millage doesn't pass.
Property values have dropped and so has the cash coming in from the original millage, about $800,000 since it was renewed in 2009, according to McKenna.
"This isn't a situation of greed. Our officers are going on their fifth year of no pay raise," said McKenna. "I want people to understand that when we talk about the economy and the times and the expenses that affects us also so we've made the cuts. We got down which brings us to having this conversation - trying to balance the budget where we're at."
Four town hall meetings will be held to detail the proposed increase:
Mt. Morris Township Senior Center - April 16 at 7 p.m.
Beecher High School - April 18 at 7 p.m.
Hamady High School - April 23 7 p.m.
Mt. Morris High School - April 25 7 p.m.