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Detroit City Council rejects public safety millage proposal

The Detroit City Council has rejected an effort to put a public safety millage on the November ballot.

The Detroit Police Department pushed hard for the five-year millage. It would have raised $56 million over five years to put 500 more “boots on the ground,” in Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee’s words.

But the Council rejected the effort by a 7-2 vote.

Council President Pro-Tem Gary Brown was skeptical about the idea. And he asked if highly-taxed Detroiters can really afford to pay more for an uncertain return.

“Overwhelmingly…people I see on the street, taxpayers, people who are property owners--do not feel that they’re getting an acceptable level of services for the taxes they’re paying now,” Brown said.

Some Council members were also concerned that moving forward without Lansing’s approvalcould compromise future state revenue sharing payments. And others, like Councilman Ken Cockrel Jr., questioned whether the Police Department is managing its current resources effectively.

That didn’t sit well with Chief Godbee.

“I take umbrage with some of the political rhetoric," Godbee said. "Every answer I give [to questions about the millage], then they move the target to something else.

“If you don’t want to tax the people, you don’t want to tax them. But don’t keep moving the target on the backs of my men and women, because they work extremely hard.”

Godbee this is a blow a department that already faces a dwindling budget, declining manpower, and recently-imposed pay and benefit cuts. But he says officers will soldier on.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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