Jul. 17—BROOKFIELD — On Monday, Brookfield police Chief Dan Faustino wore his tactical uniform rather than his formal in-office outfit.
"We have two guys off today because they're sick," Faustino said. "There wasn't anyone to replace them so I'm filling in."
That's a large reason why Brookfield trustees want to squeeze more money out of the township's police levy. Earlier this month, they approved a referendum, which would increase the levy, on the Nov. 2 election ballot.
Trustees aren't seeking to increase the current 7.8-mill police property tax rate. Rather, it's to replace the existing mileage with new, more current property evaluations.
In 1978, 1 mill in Brookfield brought in $54,727. The re-evaluated levy would bring in $137,893, an extra $83,165 per mill, trustees said. Township Trustee Dan Suttles said that's less severe than it sounds.
The measure would cost an additional $18 for the owner of a property valued at $100,000, Suttles said.
"We're not raising the mileage," Suttles said. "We're raising the evaluation of property in today's dollars."
Brookfield's fire department is funded by a separate levy.
Suttles and Faustino said the township needs more funds are needed to provide quality police protection. The replacement levy would allow the township to hire an additional full-time officer and help pay the township's 25 percent share for Brookfield Local School District's resource officer.
The township's starting pay for new police officers runs just below $15 an hour. But Brookfield finds itself in a bidding war in attracting top talent, Suttles said.
"You have people working part-time in other police departments earning more than what we're paying full-time," Suttles said.
That makes it difficult to keep officers from bolting to other departments, he said. The three newest officers on the force have a combined total of six years of experience.
Currently, the township has eight full-time officers. In the past, the department had nine, Faustino said. But state budget cuts over the years made that unaffordable.
"I want to make sure we always have two officers working at any given time," he said. "Getting this replacement levy passed will help to make sure that stays in place."
Brookfield has a mixed record on referenda — the township has had at least five previous unsuccessful attempts to adopt zoning plans. Suttles said he has better hope for the replacement police levy.
"Historically, police and fire levies have a much better chance of being approved by voters," he said.