By Chad Damp WSBT-TV(email@example.com)
11:28 PM EST, December 4, 2012
It was a packed room at the Business Growth Center in Benton Harbor. They had to put out more chairs for everyone. Even so it was still standing room only and nearly half of Benton Harbor's police force lined the back wall. After all, this public hearing was about the future of their department.
Emergency Financial Manager Joseph Harris held the public hearing to get feedback on whether he should levy a special assessment to help pay for city police. Harris says Benton Harbor can't afford to keep officers without it.
That announcement came after voters rejected two millage renewals during the November election. But many at the meeting feel the circumstances were not properly explained before the election.
And while most seemed ok with the idea of paying more taxes to save the department many questioned other financial issues the city faces.
One clear message came from the public hearing the people of Benton Harbor want to keep their police department.
If the city police department shuts down, the Berrien County Sheriff's Department would be required to respond to emergency calls in the city. And the Sheriff's Department is already spread thin because of cutbacks.
Another option is to have a special election asking people to vote again on the millages that didn't pass in November.The city and EFM will review all of the public comments and questions and make a decision in the coming weeks.
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