Niles Township to consider millage to hire additional police officers

Published 5:00 pm Thursday, July 7, 2022

NILES CHARTER TOWNSHIP — The Niles Township Board of Trustees is considering adding a millage to the November 2022 ballot.

Township Clerk Terry Eull announced that trustees will vote whether to approve a millage request by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office during its next meeting, held Monday, July 18. 

If approved, one mil – levied for a period of four years from 2022 to 2025 – would collect revenue via the township’s tax rolls and would generate approximately $500,000 to be used to hire additional police officers – as many as four, Eull believes – for increased protection within the Township through its contract with the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.

The township currently contracts with the sheriff’s office for seven deputies and one secretary. Bringing additional law enforcement officers within the township has been an ongoing conversation between the township and the sheriff’s department.

In a June 2021 meeting, the board of trustees agreed to consider a millage to support Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey, who had proposed adding five additional deputies to the Niles Township area to increase its total number of deputies to 12.

According to a recent report from the BCSO, 28 percent of the county’s complaint calls from the month of March were from Niles Township.

“We’d like to add more officers because it’s just a nightmare for them down here with all of the coverage,” said Treasurer Jim Ringler.

In other business, the board approved downspout, gutter and asphalt replacements at the Niles Charter Township Fire Department’s South Station. L&A Gutters of Hartford, MI was awarded the bid for gutter and downspout replacement at a cost of $9,321 and Shembarger Asphalt Sealing of Berrien Center was awarded the bid for asphalt repairs at a cost of $4,097.

In total the South Station repairs will cost $13,418.

According to Niles Charter Township Fire Chief Tim Jesswein, the current gutters are the original gutters installed when the South Station was built 17 years ago.

“It just leaks at almost every seam,” he said. “We’ve been up there previously and resealed a lot of the seams and done some different things with those gutters, but it’s time. They have rotted through in some places.”

In further business, the board moved to pursue an election security grant. The funding, made available by the Michigan Bureau of Elections, provides grant funding for jurisdictions to implement additional election security measures for the 2022 election.

The grant program will reimburse specified expenses to improve physical security of election locations, purchase and upgrade technology and networks used to support election administration and procure services and personnel to help secure elections.