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No decision yet on the possibility of a Branch County Sheriff's Department road patrol millage

COLDWATER, MI (WTVB) - Branch County Commissioners Thursday, during their Committee of the Whole session, heard from Sheriff John Pollack with a discussion on the possibility of putting a millage increase on a future ballot.  Currently, there is no designated millage to fund law enforcement operations in the county. The Sheriff’s Department started 2013 having to deal with a million dollar budget cut approved by Commissioners and that brought an end to most road patrol services and the layoff of 11deputies. Pollack said he often gets asked if a millage question will be voted on this year.  The Sheriff said before that happens, he would need support from the County Commission. It would cost the County $25,000 -$35,000 to have an election, unless there was a State Proposal and then the cost would then be absorbed by the state.  

County Board Chairman Commissioner Don Vrablic suggested that if we went back to the same proposal as before, a three quarter of a mill levy that was soundly defeated last August, then in 5 years, even if it passed, we would still be in the same boat as we are now. Vrablic said they might need to consider a permanent staff reduction at the Sheriff’s Department and requesting a smaller millage hike. 

The Sheriff said public opinion seems divided and he would like to keep an open mind with Commissioners and find a solution.