The headlines scream "Future looks bleak if 911 millage fails" in the Mason County Press, before it leads off with: "Slower response times and the dispatch center’s eventual closing are on the horizon if next Tuesday’s 911 millage request fails."
The City of Ludington Daily News (COLDNews) also writes a one-sided article about how badly our 9-1-1 Center needs more money: "This is our last resort. Further cuts will put the public and responders at risk.”
Police Chief Mark Barnett, Sheriff Kim Cole, County Commissioner Candidate Wally Taranko, local 9-1-1 Director Ray Hasil and others tell various anecdotes about what may happen if this effort does not pass, most are akin to apocalyptic tales of terror.
I have looked through the hyperbole to check the figures and I can clearly say that you should not vote for this tax levy. Our 9-1-1 Center already has plenty of money tumbling in, in relation to similar sized counties throughout Michigan. Two relatively poor county's taxpayers, funding their 9-1-1 Center at the highest level among ten other similar sized counties in Michigan.
Mason and Oceana County have about 55,000 people living residing therein. Let's compare Mason/Oceana County's 9-1-1 operating expenses with counties that have similar population for their own 9-1-1 services using population data from the latest 2013 population figures. We will consider all such counties that have populations from 50,000 to 70,000 as of 2013 which includes:
Barry County: 59,097
Cass County: 51,910
Ionia County: 64,703
Isabella County: 70,436
Marquette County: 67,700
Montcalm County: 63,105
St. Joseph County: 60,964
Shiawassee County: 68,900
Tuscola County: 54,263
Mecosta/Osceola: 66,367 and
Of the ten other counties that have such populations, only two have less population than Mason/Oceana. One would figure that equivalent populations would have about equal volume of work, about equal expenses, about equal revenue coming in. But this is not the case, look at the last column in this link from the State 9-1-1 Committee located at the MSP website included thereafter in a link for their 2013 report.
These are all of the counties between 50,000 and 70,000 population, and the number one on expenses is the third smallest: Mason/Oceana County. Not surprisingly, Cass County, the smallest in population has the smallest expenditures, but those expenditures are less than half of Mason/Oceana. Which may surprise you since they only have about 6% less people than the two counties.
Marquette County is bigger in area and 25% bigger in population, but spends nearly $700,000 (43%)less than Mason/Oceana on 9-1-1 in this 2013 report. The 2012 report dealing with the same counties shows little difference in the figures for the most part, but check out the revenues: it has gone from $1,518,118 in 2011 to $1,681,682 in 2012 in our counties. That's more than a ten percent increase.
The figures for 2013 (which would be in the 2014 report) are not yet published, but there is obviously a problem here, even if Ray Hasil's worries about cell phone contracts and the number of vacant properties worsen and that money drops off about $50,000 each year until apparently it dries up to nothing, both of which are anecdotal and unproven.
Our 9-1-1 services are already getting more money, often a lot more money, than other similar sized counties, who aren't claiming indigence and hardship and the need to raise taxes from a populace that is well bled already, but are scared about all this talk about their dispatch center closing if this millage is not passed. If you believe these other counties are functioning well enough, which they seem to be doing, there is no reason to raise the people's tax rates so that ours can get even richer in comparison.
Only 6 years???
The books are open right now.
Payroll is up 14% in 2 years.
In the November 911 Board meeting director Hasil proposed cost cutting
measures amounting to $180,000. He also was open to exploring new revenue
sources. The board approved an $9,000 reduction and another 5% cut in wages
(which is up 14% in 2 years so it amounts to a 9% increase) an additional $40,000 reduction from the $180,000.
Rather than raising taxes $160,000 annually for 6 years, why don't we first try cutting costs $180,000 annually and see where that takes us.
Good job of research, Shinblind. Almost everyone doesn't have a lot of spare time in the summer to do much research, which is probably why Mason Oceana 911 chose to try this tax hike in the middle of summer with about a month of introduction to the community.
Ray Hasil wants to tell us about the 2% cut in salaries to 911 personnel but doesn't tell us about the 14% salary hike that happened prior to that. Typical government tricks that they do when they think people aren't paying attention.
As I said earlier, this tax levy is going for salary and benefit raises in a community where the average household income is much smaller than the average Michigan household income. Unless your household has a Mason Oceana 911 employee, apparently.
Well said X, this is just another ruse on the public. And look at the timing....everyone wants to enjoy summer, what's left of it now anyhow. So.......let's introduce some new taxes while everyone isn't looking, right? I told you all this many times, it's a total sham and ruse! And timed to possibly work and be successful for the next years ahead. Shameful and appalling is all I think. I guess it's too late now to make signage to "Vote NO" on this proposal, yup, it is now!
Lets get back to the Depreciation. The $248,000 plus dollars they list for that is going in the Bank? for the repair or purchase of new equipment when it is needed. is this something new or have they been banking that much or some amount since the 911 dispatch opened. If they have where is that shown? How much surplus do they have?.
It's fair to ask how tangible this depreciation is, how it is figured out, and whether it is a common formula for other 911 centers in calculations.
Thor said recently, "and they also have over $1Million in savings, (if I'm reading their financial report correctly)". Really? If you or I had over a years pay in the bank, sitting there for the taking, comfortably tucked away, would you ask your boss for another raise? Same dif. if you ask me. What that alone should tell anyone with any prudent financial experience and education is that they are Already OVERFUNDED! Wth would you bite the taxpayers hands that feed you? Crooked, greedy, bueurocrats is all I see now! (sp) And if you care to take a 911 call to see how they operate around here, you might just find them quite the inept and incompetent bunch lumped together. Plus, Walmart employees don't make $12/hr. avg.. Perhaps the mgmt. group does, but the rest are resting around $8-10/hr..
Here is a list of the cost savings proposed by 911 Director Hassil at the November 911 Board Meeting. Best case they would trim $180,000 per year every year. Instead the board wishes to keep the organization bloated and wants to impose $160,000 in new taxes.
Outside agency integration cost savings
MCT/Mapping/AVL license and maintenance cost sharing ($31,605)
800 MHz mic fee cost sharing (when credit runs out, $70,000-$80,000)
Satellite Phone renewal ($1,712)
MiFi connectivity for OC agencies ($10,488)
Dataradio troubleshooting calls for service by Tele-Rad ($500 per call)
Other cost savings
Reduce cleaning service to include weekly cleaning only ($6,000)
Terminate 1 copper POTS line ($1,032)
Eliminate recording system support ($3,375)
Personnel related cost savings
Eliminate Director’s 6 month pay bump ($2,000)
Eliminate insurance incentive payments ($4,000)
Eliminate double-time on the following holidays: Veteran’s Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day, President’s Day, and Marin
Luther King Day ($3,006)
Eliminate supervisor pay for 1-2 employees ($3,786-$7,571)
Convert 1-2 full-time dispatcher positions to part-time (Single/2-Per/Fam, $5,618/$12,787/$15,113, $660/$1,584/$1,980,
$6,278/$14,371/$17,093 per employee)
Reduce weekly dispatching schedule by 7-14 hours per week ($6,628-$13,257)
Reduce Administrative Assistant hours by 4-8 hours per week ($3,775-$7,550)
This doesn't include looking for other revenue sources which the board also rejected.
Great research and post shinblind. Looking up above at some of the savings is quite a laugh to be sure. For instance: eliminate double-pay for holidays, eliminate director's 6 month pay bump, reduce cleaning service to once a week, Telerad $500/call fees, 800 mic fees, boy the list is long! If these aren't wastes, I guess I don't know what is. This is a genuine bureaucratic fiasco from start to finish imho. I wonder how many of the personnel are related to the director or others in law enforcement. It sure is a huge gravy train to be certain! I wonder what the public at large would think if they actually read all this information. The smart thing would be to not only defeat the new millage, but privatize the entire operation, or better yet, shut the damn thing down and go back to the individual depts. doing their own dispatching as usual and expected.
While the citizens of Mason and Oceana County are scratching by on what's left of their money from the already onerous tax burden in these counties, with an income that is about 20% less than the average household in Michigan, our 911 Service has nothing but the best. Compare it to the other counties, notice the perks they refuse to give up. Do you want to help your fellow citizens on Tuesday, do you really? Then let the poor keep their money and let the rich finally reach into their soul and admit they need to face reality.
Which vote will save more lives and livelihoods? I sincerely believe a 'no' vote will. Excellent work, Shinblind.
Looks like the taxpayers that were scared and uninformed again won at the polls, passed by a great margin. This is some of the proposals that need both sides to get to the public, exactly like you did here XLFD. Great thread and participation anyhow. Shows there still is a little common sense left around town, but sadly, way too little. Local 911 will continue to be the richest per capita agency in Michigan yet!
Here's some more results of the primary, more bad news for the County imho.
I just can't understand the poor voter turnout. These local elections are very important.