County 911 surcharge, mental health millage approved by voters

GENESEE COUNTY — Voters across the county approved a renewal of the 911 surcharge, Tuesday, to continue funding for emergency dispatch services, while a proposal to fund mental health services for county residents was also given a nod.

At the May 4 special election, Genesee County voters decided to approve a 911 surcharge renewal on all landline, wireless and voice over internet protocol service devices to fund 911 emergency call answering and dispatch services, including facilities, equipment, maintenance and operating costs.

The vote was 26,426 to 16,867 to continue assessing a charge of $1.86 per month for a period ending on Dec. 31, 2026 to generate between $7 to $8 million annually. The surcharge itself is a fixed rate that was approved in 2017 by Genesee County voters and accepted by the State of Michigan.

The surcharge is Genesee County 911’s only source of income, helping the department to keep up to date with equipment and covering the salaries of 50 dispatchers and other staff.

Also, at the May 4 special election, voters approved the Community Mental Health Millage, an initiative supported by Genesee Health System.

The vote was 23,636 to 19,507 in favor of the millage, which will generate around $9.5 million for additional mental health services in the county in its first year. The levy would be 0.93 mils for 10 years, starting in 2021.

Specific services from the mental health millage will provide law enforcement and first responders with mental health/ crisis training, while addressing court/ corrections mental health supports and services, suicide and crisis prevention, school crisis and de-escalation and health and wellness for vulnerable populations.

One hundred percent of the millage funds will be allocated to Genesee Health System to meet mental health needs in an appropriate setting and reduce the burden on the county jail to care and house inmates who need mental health treatment.

“On behalf of my colleagues and our Board of Directors of Genesee Health System, we would like to thank the voters of Genesee County for their support in passing the Community Mental Health Millage today,” said Dan Russell, the CEO of the Genesee Health System. “The passage of the millage today will go a long way towards working with law enforcement and providing training for dealing with residents who are suffering from mental health challenges, establishing a Crisis Center for those who need mental health services which will be open to all residents of the county, working with our school districts to assist K-12 students who are suffering, and providing services and treatment to prevent further suicides by our residents.

“We will be organizing community-based teams around the seven focus areas seeking input from on the needs and following best practices by those in the field.”

In other ballot proposals, voters in Burton’s Bendle school district approved an operating millage renewal of 17.9586 mills on all property and a 2-mill levy for the district’s sinking fund to be put toward upgrades to the district’s buildings.

The renewal was approved by voters 203-125, while the sinking fund was approved 180-148.

Atlas Township voters continued their support for police and fire protection, with millage renewals for both being approved in Tuesday’s election.

With just more than 19 percent of the 6,735 registered voters casting ballots, the fire millage passed by a vote of 985 to 306. The police millage passed by a vote of 946 to 346, according to data posted on the Genesee County Clerk website Wednesday morning.

The 2.1 mils for police protection will generate about $772,800 in the first year. The 1 mil for fire protection will generate about $368,000 in the first year.

Both millages are for five years.

In Gaines Township, voters decided to pull the plug on their police department which has been virtually shutdown do to lack of funding for weeks. The request for a millage there for public safety failed 594 to 1,223 (see related story for details), while a mosquito spraying proposal passed 950-862.