2015-10-22 / Front Page

Police millage on ballot in Clayton Township

810-452-2652 • lrocha@mihomepaper.com

CLAYTON TOWNSHIP – The township is asking residents to green light a 1.9-mil levy to help fund police services through 2021.

The six-year millage would generate about $361,000 the first year, starting with the December taxes.

The additional mils would cost the owner of the average home about $108 per year. Average taxable value, roughly half the actual value, is around $57,200.

The current 0.97-mil police levy brings about $185,000 to the department’s estimated $570,000 budget. The township supplements the cost from the general fund, with additional revenues coming from forfeitures, grants and cost recovery from insurance providers.

The millages, as well as 0.8 mils for fire service, expire simultaneously.

The outcome of the election will determine whether the township continues to provide round-the-clock police coverage.

“We’re not going to just turn off the switch,” said Treasurer Rick Caruso. “If the millage passes, we’re going to have what we have now. If it doesn’t, it’s probably going to go down to about 80 hours of coverage.”

The township employs a chief, sergeant and one full-time officer, plus six to eight part-time officers.

Some people, including elected officials, have voiced concern over whether the public will support a millage on the heels of the wage and benefits increases for the chief of police.

When the board hired Chief Scott Pavlik in January 2013, he received a $50,000 salary and $2,000 in lieu of health insurance. The township contributed $5,000 to his retirement fund.

Since then, Pavlik has received two wage increases, to $70,000 – a 40 percent jump from his starting salary. He also has use of a township-owned vehicle to make the 135-mile roundtrip to and from work – a benefit valued at about $19,000.

The township also contributed $7,000 to Pavlik’s retirement this year, paid $900 per year for the past two years for a cell phone and reimbursed him for unused vacation time.

In January, Supervisor Chris Gehringer said Pavlik has helped the township by acquiring free military surplus equipment, increasing forfeiture revenues, generating new revenues through cost recovery and altering the staffing procedures to save on overtime costs.

Caruso said the township increased Pavlik’s wages in order to keep him.

“He had another job offer,” said Caruso. “We had just gone through a chief search that took a year and a half before we hired him. The police department was in disarray while we did that. We wanted the police department to be stable when we went into this millage.”

Pavlik said he had a couple of job offers that paid “significantly more” than he earns in Clayton Township. He had given notice of accepting another position, but township officials came back with an offer to retain him.

“I stayed out of loyalty,” said Pavlik. “They got me at a deal. I said at the time that I had no intention of working for $50,000, but I was willing to accept it. The deal was we would renegotiate.

“They pay me for 40 hours per week, but I don’t work 40 hours and I don’t get over time. The job is demanding. I work an unbelievable amount of hours. I work holidays, and my pay doesn’t really reflect that.”

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