Benzie County will ask voters to boost funding for drug enforcement this November. Officials in the cash-strapped county have created a millage proposal that would allow a sheriff’s deputy to join the region’s drug task force, called the Traverse Narcotics Team.
Benzie County Sheriff Ted Schendel says the department plans to assign a veteran deputy to the task force -- and then hire a new deputy for road patrol -- if the proposal passes.
The sheriff's department used to have a deputy assigned to the task force, but it let the position go unfilled earlier this year because of budget cuts. The Traverse Narcotics Team operates throughout eight counties in northwest Lower Michigan.
Sheriff Ted Schendel says it’s important to get a local deputy on the task force again -- even though its a regional team.
“When you look at the numbers that our TNT officer had, he led this department in arrests and calls for service [for drug-related arrests] even though he was assigned to a team outside of the county," Schendel says.
Eight people in Benzie County have died from drug overdoses in the past two years, according to Schendel. He says drug enforcement would improve with the funding boost.
“We would have somebody dedicated to the team from Benzie County to make sure that Benzie County was looked after -- to make sure that we were going after the players inside Benzie County," Schendel says. "And that Benzie County wasn’t being overlooked.”
The proposal calls for a millage rate of up to 0.1000 mills -- for a period of four years.
The county estimates the tax would generate nearly $112,000 in the first year.