2018-09-23 / Front Page

Montrose city residents seek facts about public safety millage

By Jeanne Marcello
Staff Reporter

CITY OF MONTROSE – During the Thursday, Sept. 20 meeting of the Montrose City Council, resident Eva Gist talked about safety concerns within the city.

“No one obeys speed limits. No one is stopping at stop signs. I called 911 at about 9:30 p.m. (one night) and was told to go to the township police department and make a complaint.”

Gist said, “I get no sleep. Someone is going to get hurt. We have elderly people riding their bicycles. What really made me mad was how I was treated at the township.”

Councilman Thomas Bigelow explained that the City of Montrose doesn’t have its own police department, it has a contract with the township. The city has never had a public safety millage to fund police and fire services. But the city can’t afford to fund public safety out of the general fund anymore.

Bigelow said, “We’ve lost 60 percent of our (state equalized value) on our houses. This has resulted in a substantial cut to city funding. And while property values are rebounding, the city is only able to get an additional four percent (over the year before). We’ve cut everything we can cut.”

Councilman Robert Arnold said, “It translates to $180,000 less (per year in city operation revenues).”

Bigelow said, “We are in a contract situation.”

Councilwoman Christy Sanborn said, “Right now, the taxable value of property is about one-quarter of what it’s valued at.”

Bigelow said, “We’ve never had a revenue stream for public safety.” He explained that there will be a public safety millage proposal on the November ballot.

Gist wanted to know why they haven’t been promoting the millage. Several council members explained that the city council and city staff aren’t allowed to promote the millage, only provide the facts.

Councilman Ryan Heslop told Gist, “You’re not the only person who’s noticed (the problem of speeding lately.)”

Sanborn said, “In March, we had a vehicle flip over and slide to within 15 feet of a house.” She contends that vehicles don’t just flip over in town going the speed limit. Sanborn added that she is grateful that the school buses pick up kids within the city.

Bigelow said, “We will be negotiating a new public safety contract.”

Gist said, “I think people take advantage.” Council members agreed.

Later in the meeting, council members decided to hold a public safety informational meeting at 6 p.m., on Thursday, Oct. 18, which is before that evening’s council meeting.

City Clerk Tina Rush said, “(City Manager Neil Rankin) wanted to schedule a meeting concerning the ballot issues. Your public safety millage is very important.”

City Attorney Otis Stout said, “The purpose of the public meeting is to inform the public.”

Sanborn said, “I think we need to invite our police and fire departments to be at that meeting.”

The council thanked Gist for attending the meeting to discuss the safety problem and suggested that she might want to help get the word out about the millage.

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