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Detroit Police Tax: City Council Postpones Vote To Put $56 Million Millage On November Ballot

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Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. pauses for a moment during a question about the death of Adaisha Miller, 25, of Detroit as Inspector Lashinda Houser listens in the background at Police headquarters, Monday, July 9, 2012. Godbee asked City Council to approve a measure to put a millage on the November ballot that would raise $56 million to put approximately 500 patrol officers in neighborhood precincts, on Tuesday, July 31, 2012. (AP Photo/The Detroit News, Clarence Tabb, Jr) | AP

Detroiters may have the chance to approve a tax that would put more police officers on the street, if the police department can effectively answer City Council's concerns.

The body put off a vote to put an millage on the November ballot that would raise approximately $56 million and add 500 to 600 officers to neighborhood patrol. The 9-mil increase would be in effect for five years, at which point residents could vote again.

Police Chief Godbee told Council 30 to 40 officers would go to precincts outside the central district, where there is better police presence currently.

"We think [it] is a worthy investment not only for the neighborhoods of Detroit but to the city's overall financial health," Godbee said.

In light of unanswered questions, Council chose to wait to vote on whether the initiative would go on the Nov. 6 ballot. They will reconvene for a special session during their summer recess, which begins Wednesday, to meet the deadline to get it on the ballot.

Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown said the proposal came out of the Public Health and Safety Standing Committee without a recommendation because they wanted a more detailed written plan for how the money would be spent.

"One paragraph on the ballot isn't going to guarantee anything," Brown said.

Godbee countered that it was a simple deployment plan to put the officers in precincts.

"This isn't rocket science. This isn't any major plan," he said.

Councilman Ken Cockrel Jr. expressed concern about increasing the financial burden for Detroiters, whom he says face high taxes and high levels of poverty.

The tax would come out to $225 yearly for owners of a home worth $50,000.

Cockrel said if the measure went to vote presently, he would vote against it.

The push for more funding comes as the police department faces an 18 percent, $75 million cut in next year's budget, and new union contracts that cut pay by 10 percent.

"It's critical not only for the citizens. It's dangerous for our officers," Rev. Jerome Warfield of the Board of Police Commissioners told The Huffington Post in May. As he told Council at the time, "We are stretched beyond our limits right now."

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