City reacts to 911 millage announcement

BURTON — The city will have to pay an additional $400,000 a year if a proposed 911 surcharge renewal, on the ballot for May, doesn’t receive approval by voters.

Mayor Duane Haskins told the city council Feb. 1 about the county’s decision to put the renewal on the ballot in May, adding it was not a scheduled election so the city will likely have to ask the council to move some money around in accounts later this year.

“In May we will be having an election that was not budgeted for, because the 911 consortium just waited until a do or die moment, and it is now die time,” said Haskins. “Because if it is not put on May ballot for renewal it will end up costing our city alone almost $400,000 for the year.”

Haskins said the only good thing is the surcharge is not an increase, so residents won’t be paying any more for 911 service.

Councilman Dennis O’Keefe said the millage renewal wasn’t late, it was planned for May – the county just waited until now to put it on the ballot.

O’Keefe defended the county’s decision to ask for the renewal, saying he supports it as a crucial part of the budget for 911.

“If you don’t get this passed you probably won’t have a 911, that’s how much money we’re talking about,” he said. “It comes from the surcharge on telephones. I would hope the city council, police department and fire department would throw themselves behind this with some endorsements.”

O’Keefe said it would, as Haskins said, cost the city more than $400,000 a year to make up for the loss of the surcharge, money he admits the city doesn’t have.

“It’s very important we all get behind this,” said O’Keefe. “911 does a fantastic job in this county and this needs to be approved.

All county commissioners, except Shaun Shumaker and Bryant Nolden voted in favor of placing the 911 surcharge proposal on the May ballot, last week.

Pending approval by voters, the 911 surcharge renewal would generate $7 million annually and assess a

$1.86 per month charge on all phone lines in Genesee County for a period ending on Dec. 31, 2026.