Local Police/Fire Millage Votes Show Local Politicians’ Bait and Switch

Imagine you have made a deal to buy a used car and at the last minute the dealer says, “Of course, if you want a motor that will cost extra.”  

That's essentially what local politicians do when they place local police and fire “enhancement” millages on the ballot. These public safety services are not some added extra provided by municipal governments, but rather the core services the public demands from them.

When local politicians use these particular services to finagle voters into turning over more of their cash, they're acting in bad faith. What they should do instead is prioritize all the services the local government provides, eliminate the least important, and if they don’t want to make needed cuts, ask voters to approve a general property tax millage increase. 

Or alternatively, ask voters to approve extra millages for those lowest priority services. Of course, these politicians know voters would be less likely to fork over extra money for “extras” like recreation programs, golf courses and special events, so they manipulate citizens by instead asking for extra police and fire millages.

When you buy a car you expect it to have an engine, and when you pay regular property taxes you expect them to cover the core services of police and fire protection. Car companies tack on extra charges for CD players, navigation systems and sunroofs, but not for an adequate motor. Likewise, local politicians can ask taxpayers to pay extra taxes for optional programs, but all public safety costs must be included as part of the “base model.”

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.