Gaines Township leaders considering special assessment to pay for police department

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GAINES TOWNSHIP (WJRT) (3/13/2019) - Gaines Township leaders are proposing a special assessment tax to pay for its police department.

The council voted Wednesday night unanimously to consider charging all properties within Gaines Township and the tiny Gaines village an additional $115 a year for 10 years.

This new tax is making dozens of people upset because they didn't have a chance to cast their vote on the issue.

"It's not that I am against the police. I am against the idea that we don't get a vote. We have an assessment. We have a lot of retired people like myself in the township that are living on a fixed budget,” Dan Bryant said.

Five years ago the township passed a 0.5-mill tax by one vote and that recently expired. That generated over $80,000 a year, which paid for a chief and two part-time officers.

Over time, the department has grown and is costing the township more money than expected. Township Supervisor Paul Fortino said they started dipping into the general fund to pay for the police department.

Now the council is looking at using the special assessment to pay for the police department.

A proposed budget for the Gaines Police Department for the 2018-2019 fiscal year shows that it needs over $260,000. Most of the money would go towards funding the officers pay.

Fortino said this is important that they move forward with this proposal.

"We want to improve services, to provide more hours for coverage and patrol work,” Fortino said.

This special assessment tax is not a done deal and township leaders could still back away from charging it. Gaines Township plans to have another scheduled public hearing on April 3.