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.
For me anyhow Willy, August is my busiest month. For many others, this is also true. And many others yet are also on vacations, etc..
I know and agree that August is not a good month for holding elections but it has to take place sometime before November. Absentee ballots are another options for those individuals whose schedule is full in August.
I still cannot believe how easy it was to get such a significant majority of this local voting minority to vote for tax increases, that will ultimately be bad for our area. The pro-government-growth forces had barraged the area with propaganda and got out the vote amongst their people, and so it was nigh impossible to organize and muster the facts of the matter to the public who were more interested in other summer things. Everywhere you turned, every organization involved with profiting from the proposals were telling you platitudes of how these proposals were great, but they were just a new way to get revenue to already bloated systems.
In the Ludington and Scottville area alone, property taxes were raised about a half mil for the LMTA and 911 services, both of which are already liberally subsidized. I don't know whether most people get it, but Scottville is almost at a 50 mil tax rate (for principal residences), while the rest of the county (except for Ludington City which is just under 40) is in the mid twenties. That rate needs to go down, not up, or Scottville will die off as no business or individual will want to move there-- while the people slowly but noticeably flee.
Well..., said Reagan, these people don't truly understand any basic economics, "government isn't the solution, it's the problem". It's there to help, not hinder growth with sustainability, with more taxation and less voter participation either. Government's main job is to secure the USA's prosperity and protect the innocent, in LE terms. And to protect against foreign invaders, and that's about it. 911 services here are at an "all time per capita high" already, how much more can an issue of this small magnitude be publicized??? And it surely doesn't help that the press is always holding the line on anything liberal that will increase gov't. regulation and control. The statement by the Director/propaganda chief is simply to stir emotion, and fear, not reinforce strength and reliability imho. This is a "fools dream" that is happening right under most people's noses, and they don't even have a clue.