In the city of Taylor, the owner of a $150,000 home will pay $450 this year in property taxes simply to fund the pensions of police and firefighters who are eligible for retirement in their mid-40s, after only 20 years of service.
That’s the same millage rate residents are paying to fund the public schools for 10,000 children, according to State Rep. Doug Geise, a Democrat who calls for an overhaul of Public Act 312, which requires binding arbitration, can give police and firefighters strong negotiating leverage, and, which Geiss blames for the outsized public safety pensions in his community and elsewhere in Michigan.
“It’s unsustainable,” Geiss says.
In Dewitt, just north of Lansing the city police commonly share donuts with the township police at the local Tim Horton’s. And they could share considerable savings if they were all part of one police department, according to former Dewitt mayor and current State Rep. Paul Opshommer, a Republican who calls for overhauling arcane state laws that prevent neighboring governments from combining services or consolidating the operations.
“This is about saving our local communities – it’s that simple,” Opsommer says.
Geiss and Opsommer are part of a small tribe of bipartisan legislators who are working with the Michigan Municipal League to draft important changes that can, in the long run, result in more cost-efficient services and preservation of quality of life in these cash-strapped times.
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