Miami Twp. police levy back to initial plan

A 5-mill, five-year replacement levy will be on the November ballot.

The original plan to put a 5-mill, five-year replacement issue before voters this fall “is appropriate” and will go forward, Jan Kelly, director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, said Monday.

That determination came after township officials talked with representatives of the board of elections, the prosecutor’s office and the auditor’s office, Kelly said.

“The request that was filed on July 9 stands,” she said.

Early last month, Miami Twp. trustees approved the 5-mill replacement issue, which was questioned by the board of elections. Kelly said she then called the secretary of state’s office for clarification. That office did not render an opinion, she said, but instead said township officials should discuss it with the prosecutor’s office.

The prosecutor’s office said “election law would not allow us to place a replacement levy on the ballot while the current levy was still in force and still had another year of collections available,” township Finance Director Harry Steger said in an email Friday.

Given the police department’s financial need, Steger said, he then recommended placing a 1-mill, 1-year levy on the fall ballot and putting another levy on the spring ballot to make up for the difference.

“The thinking was to then go back to the voters in May 2015 and ask for a new levy to combine the 4.00 and 1.00 mill levies into a new 5.00 mill, 5 year levy,” Steger said in the email.

After trustees approved the 1-mill plan, the auditor’s office flagged that proposal, he said.

Several discussions with county offices ensued, resulting in the finding that the township “had been correct” in its initial plan, Steger said in the email.

Because trustees already approved the 5-mill levy, additional action before last week’s filing deadline was not required, Kelly said.

If the November levy is approved by voters, the county auditor will remove the current 4-mill levy and place on the tax duplicate the 5-mill levy and begin collections in January 2015, Steger said.

The township wants voters to have a “nice, clear explanation” of the levy, said Trustee Vice President Robert Matthews.

If approved, it would increase the amount property owners pay to finance the township’s police department about $35 a year starting in 2015, Steger said.

It would generate about $2.8 million annually for the department. The levy is one of two tax issues the township uses to fund the police department’s budget, which is projected at $6.33 million for 2015, said Police Chief Ron Hess.

The other is a 5.2-mill levy approved by voters in 2013. It has generated about $3 million annually and costs the owner of a $100,000 property about $180 a year, Steger said.

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