to find sources for new funds.
Research Question 1. How has Harrison Township traditionally funded its Fire
Department? Harrison Township has traditionally used special assessments, general property
taxes and service fees to fund its fire department.
From 1960-1992, Harrison Township Fire Department revenues were generated
primarily through special assessments on real property. Special assessments are charges
against property for a public improvement that confers a special benefit to that property
different from the benefit enjoyed by the general public. Historically, special assessments
have been used to raise revenue for constructing and maintaining local capital improvements
such as water and sewer mains, street improvements and sidewalks. Over the last thirty years,
special assessments have evolved into a financial resource for funding police and fire
protection, emergency medical services, garbage collection, and similar municipal services
(Michigan Townships Association [MTA], 1996)
The Police and Fire Protection Act, Act 33 of 1951, authorizes Michigan townships, villages,
and cities under 15,000 population to provide police and fire protection, purchase police and
fire equipment, and maintain and operate such equipment. Further, Act 33 authorizes the
creation of special assessment districts and the levying and collecting of special assessments
and fees for the operation of police and fire services (MTA, 1996).
In late 1992, Harrison Township residents voted to change the primary method of
funding for the fire department. Beginning in 1993, fire department revenues were generated
primarily by general ad valorem (in proportion to value) property taxes.