Michigan sheriffs would receive $15 million from a liquor tax on road patrols

Michigan sheriffs would receive $15 million from a liquor tax on road patrols ...

Under a package of bills that was approved in the House of Representatives this week, Michigan's county sheriffs would provide more stable and permanent funding to assist road patrols in rural Michigan communities.

House Bills would take $15 million in liquor excise taxes collected by the state each year and allocate that money to the state's secondary road patrol program, which allows sheriffs to patrol roads outside of cities and villages.

The most recent legislation were passed in the House on Wednesday, April 13, according to state Reps. Mike Mueller, R-Linden, David Martin, R-Davison, and Tommy Brann, R-Wyoming.

According to the House Fiscal Agency's analysis, the measure would pay $15 million from the total annual income collected from the state's 4% liquor excise tax. It would also distribute it to local sheriff's departments for road patrols in rural areas.

Legislators said the package would not increase consumer tax in any way.

The actual funding formula for the state's secondary road patrol program, according to legislators, is too unfavorable.

The primary road patrol program is funded by the state's government, which collects money from court penalties, such as fines and traffic tickets. Under the Michigan Vehicle Code, the program receives $10 per civil infraction.

The current funding formula means the program's revenue is entirely based on the number of traffic tickets written.

"We're resolving the problem by obtaining reliable liquor tax settlement, which increased during the epidemic," Martin said in a prepared statement.

Funding for the secondary road patrol program has decreased for the last five years, from $8.9 million in 2018 to $6.2 million in 2021. In recent years, the state has had to intervene to fund the general fund to support the program.

In a Republican statement, the Legislature must have a conversation about how much, if any, general fund funding will be allocated to secondary road patrols.

Even year upon year, residents anticipate that their neighborhood will continue to have adequate police coverage, said the mayor. And patrol officers are left in limbo, worried about their job status while the Legislature prepares its budget.

Brann said the bill would provide stable income for local sheriffs' offices, which might be used to employ personnel, purchase equipment, and conduct law enforcement in state and county parks.

This is going to be guaranteed (funding, he said. Seventy-five percent of accidents on secondary roads are caused. This is pro-police, pro-funding, and it protects people. It's a great measure.

Matthew M. Saxton, the CEO and executive director of the Michigan Sheriff's Association, described the bill as a "commonsense solution to a long-standing funding problem."

"The package of measures provides sheriffs and counties security of funding, staffing, and safety," Saxton said in a prepared statement.

The bill package has been submitted to the Senate Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

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