Green Oak Township residents will face two millage issues on the ballot Tuesday that could result in a $163 tax hike for the average homeowner.
One, a request to maintain township police department operations would raise taxes by $102, and the other, a millage proposal to continue township fire department services, would raise them by another $61. Both requests are for five years and would expire on Dec. 31, 2015.
The township is asking voters to approve a 2.5-mill police issue that would succeed the current 1.4948-mill levy and a 2.0-mill fire request that would replace the existing 1.4016-mill levy. The current millages will expire on Dec. 31, after this year's December tax levy.
One mill equals $1 in taxes on each $1,000 of a property's taxable value, which is half its market value.
St. Charles said the township is requesting higher millage rates for police and fire protection because the taxable value of both residential and commercial properties have declined.
The market value of the average home in Green Oak Township, like the rest of the state, has dropped significantly during the last few years.
"We've lost about 20 percent of our taxable value in three years," St. Charles said. The average value of a home in Green Oak Township this year is $101,427.
In addition to lower property values, the cost of doing business has affected the township.
"Everything costs more: Equipment, health care, fuel," the supervisor said.
St. Charles said the ballot issues are maintenance, not enhancement, issues to continue current police and fire department services.
"It is the cost to the average homeowner for the same level of service (as presently)," St. Charles said. "This is just status quo."
If the millage issues were to fail at the ballot box and were not brought back a second time, the township police and fire departments would run out of money by mid-2012, according to St. Charles.
The fire department is completely funded through the millage, while the police department receives $175,000, or one-fourth of its budget, from the township's general fund.
The township had a survey of police and fire services performed last spring by Strategy Research Institute and St. Charles said the results were encouraging.
In it, 50 percent of about 400 respondents "strongly agreed" or "somewhat agreed" that they would support a request for a "reasonable increase in (fire and police) millages".
St. Charles said it's an indication that the residents "are happy with the level of service they're getting."
Green Oak Township Fire Chief Bill Steele said the fire department is asking for the bare minimum increase to keep the current level of service.
"We're very sympathetic to the tough economic times," he said.
Steele said the fire department has upgraded its public safety and emergency operations in the past few years by adding personnel, reducing its response times and purchasing 12 emergency storm warning sirens, which are interspersed in locations all over the township.
"We've also done very aggressive code enforcement and dramatically reduced (fire) loss in commercial structures," Steele said.
St. Charles said he hopes the ballot issues will pass, but -- based on the shaky economy -- is hedging his bets.
"We've been hearing good reports, but you never know," he said. "It really depends on the property owners' ability to pay."
The supervisor said the township will not be putting up any "get out the vote" signs, and cannot, by law, ask voters to approve a tax levy.
However, St. Charles said a citizens' group is providing fact sheets and sending out mailings to township voters.
Polls at all voting precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day.