GTC Community Police Proposal Could Cost Townships

Under a new plan, townships in Grand Traverse County could wind-up paying more for police protection.

Many townships use community police officers or CPOs from the sheriff’s department, paying roughly half the total amount it takes to put an officer on the road.

But now, county commissioners say they may need to pay more.

Reporter Charlie Tinker spoke to both the county and townships and has more details on the proposal.

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“The community police officers program has been a great thing for good public safety,” said Acme Township Supervisor Jay Zollinger.

But now, a new proposal calls the program’s cost into question.

County Administrator Dave Benda says the county/township share needs to even out.

His plan calls for a fee increase–its reasoning summed up in one word:

“Inflation,” explained County Commissioner Christine Maxbauer. “Our costs are going up and so there is a proposed increase to the townships.”

Under the plan, Grand Traverse County would hand its townships a five percent rate hike, bringing the total amount per officer to nearly $80,000– a number many townships say is unreasonable.

“Our taxpayers pay taxes to the county plus we charge an extra millage in each township,” said Zollinger. “We don’t think double taxation is good and we think the rates are fair.”

With that in mind, the townships have come together and arrived at another number altogether… $77,000, roughly a two percent increase.

“We have proposed a model contract which we think is very equitable to both parties,” explained the supervisor. “We still are willing to sit down and talk about it.”

“The county board is either going to accept it or they are going to negotiate back and forth,” said Maxbauer.

But if an understanding can’t be reached and townships go with the administrator’s plan, many worry the increases could snowball to include the program’s total cost.

“This year it goes up this much, next year it goes up a little more and one of the proposals said eventually we’ll be at the fully loaded rate and we don’t believe that’s appropriate,” argued Zollinger.

The county commission was scheduled to talk about this issue at their meeting tonight, but postponed the discussion until next month.

That’s when the townships plan to offer their counter-proposal.