Niles Twp. voters to decide on renewing police millage

Published 10:06 am Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Niles Township residents will decide whether or not to continue receiving 24-hour police protection from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department in the August election.

On Monday, the Niles Township Board of Trustees voted to place on the ballot of the Primary Election a proposal for the renewal of 1 mill that would fund the continuation of the township’s contract with the sheriff’s department for the next four years.

The millage would generate an estimated $379,000 in the first year and cost a property owner whose home has a taxable value of $50,000 (market value $100,000) approximately $50 per year.

Voters last renewed the police millage in 2012 by a vote of 3,023 to 2,241.

“It has passed every time it has been on the ballot for the sheriff’s department,” said Township Supervisor Jim Stover. “It’s never been really, really close.”

Township Treasurer Jim Ringler said if the renewal does not pass, the township would still receive coverage from the sheriff’s department, but it would be very limited.

Capt. Robert Boyce, of the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, said the sheriff’s department has had a contract with Niles Township for 24-hour police coverage since January of 2006.

The sheriff’s department handled more than 3,900 service calls in Niles Township last year, which is roughly 27 percent of the calls the department responded to in all of Berrien County in 2015 (14,787).

There are currently six full-time deputies and one full-time lieutenant assigned to provide police coverage in Niles Township, which has a population of approximately 14,000. Boyce said there is also a contractual agreement to allow five part-time deputies to assist with coverage in the township on an “as needed basis.”