By Jim Newell
Public safety is clearly a priority for Orion voters, passing the requested renewal and increases in the proposed police and fire millages in the Aug. 4 primary election.
More than 62 percent of voters passed the requested 3 mill Fire and Emergency Medical Services Operating Millage, while more than 57 percent supported the requested 3.5 mills Police Operating Millage.
“I think it’s expected that people will always support police and fire, but you never know. We’re extremely grateful to see our residents widely supported both the police and fire millages,” said township Supervisor Chris Barnett.
Both the Orion Township Fire Department and the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Orion Twp. Substation have seen their calls for service increase each year for the past decade.
“I’m excited to continue to keep our community one of the safest in the state and move our fire department toward advanced life support services, which is what we’ve been telling the residents since 2015,” Barnett said.
“We’ve had a great track record with (Oakland County Sheriff’s Office ) Lt. Dan Toth, and (former) fire Chief (Robert) Smith and now fire Chief (Rob) Duke. When they put something out there and tell the residents something they follow through,” Barnett said. “I’m really grateful, really thankful. We have an awesome team and we’re going to do everything we told the residents we were going to do.”
Fire and Emergency Medical Services Operating Millage results
Voters passed the requested 3 mill fire millage with 6,353 (62.06 percent) in favor and 3,884 against (37-94 percent).
Of the township’s 15 precincts, only in Precinct 2 – which consists of voters in the Village of Lake Orion did voters not pass the proposal. There were 366 votes (49.86 percent) supporting the millage and 368 votes (50.14 percent) against.
Fire Station #1 is located in the village at 93 S. Anderson St.
Voters in Precinct 11 were the next lowest, with 58.01 percent of voters supporting the millage. Precinct 3 was at 58.25 percent in favor and 59.98 percent of Precinct 4 voters supported the millage.
In all other precincts, at least 60 percent of voters supported the millage. Precinct 14 voters had the highest support, with 68.75 percent voting in favor.
The millage is for six years and is expected to generate $5,696,466.81 in the first year.
A property with a taxable value of $100,000 would be taxed up to $300 for the millage.
Over the past 10 years, the Orion Twp. Fire Department has seen a 124 percent increase in calls for service: from 1,616 total calls in 2010 to 3,622 in 2020 (anticipated). There were 3,141 calls for service in 2019.
The fire department plans more than $1.1 million in capital purchases each year from 2021 through 2026, except for in 2025 when the estimated capital purchases are $935,000.
For more on the Orion Township Fire Department’s capital improvement plan, see the July 29 issue of the Lake Orion Review.
Police Operating Millage results
Voters supported the proposed 3.5 mills Police Operating Millage with 5,487 (57.6 percent) for, 4,012 against (42.4 percent).
The millage is for six years and will fund the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Orion Township Substation operations. The millage was a renewal of 3 mills, which voters approved in 2016 and that expired in 2019, and a half-mill increase.
The millage is expected to generate $6,135,467.70 in the first year and would be used strictly for police services. The millage runs from December 2020 through December 2025.
A property with a taxable value of $100,000 would be taxed up to $350 for the millage.
The sheriff’s office in Orion Townships gets more than 1,600 calls for service (CFS) per month, an average of 52 calls each day, Toth said. Police calls for service in the township have increased routinely over the past 20 years, between 4-6 percent each year.
In 2007, the sheriff’s department responded to 13,787 calls for police services: in 2019, police in the township responded to 18,947 calls.
Voters in the Village of Lake Orion do not vote on the Orion Township police millage. The village has its own millage for the Lake Orion Police Department.