City council approves police tax levies for 2020-21

BURTON — The city council voted 6-1, June 15, to approve tax levies for the Burton Police Department for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

Council approved the following tax millages: General Operating 4.0000 mills; Voted Police 0.9835, Voted Police 0.9959, Voted Police 6.4733 (8.4527 total); and Voted Fire 0.9959.

The millages must be set and budgets approved by July 1, according to the Burton City Charter, with the prior fiscal year ending June 30.

The resolution to approve the millage rates for police and fire, designating the sum to be raised by taxation for the general purposes of the city and for payment of principal and interest on its indebtedness.

The lone vote against setting the police and fire millage rates was Councilman Dennis O’Keefe, who has argued the rate for the police millage should be set at the higher rate allowed by the charter because of financial uncertainty in the coming year.

“If I was a real goofball, I’d have a resolution to change the general operating mills to 4.7, but I know it won’t pass so I’m not going to waste my time doing that,” said O’Keefe. “I think we’re making a huge mistake here, in this year of unrest and uncertainty we would have $450,000 that could be in the coffers waiting to maybe help part of the city that needed that help, so I will not go through that again, but I will be voting ‘no’ tonight.”

Councilman Danny Wells said he agreed with O’Keefe but would trust the administration to have a good grasp on the budget.

“I agree with Mr. O’Keefe on this, but you know the council has spoken on this once,” said Wells. “I’m going to have to trust the administration to make the proper cuts, to keep us in budget, so I’m going to support it at this time.”

Councilman Vaughn Smith also said he supported approval of the millage rate as presented, but added he still has concerns about the city and rising legacy costs.

Every year the city is paying more and more for retired police officers and Smith warned that it could become a problem if the city cannot keep up payments.

“This is a cancer we have, it’s happening to our state, it’s happening to our county,” Smith said of legacy costs. “We don’t want it to happen to Burton.”