MONTCALM CO. (WZZM) -- Crime is a persistant problem in Montcalm County, according to people who live there and the officers who protect them.
Yet voters rejected a millage, by a 52 to 48 percent margin Tuesday night, that would have put more sheriff's deputies back on the road.
The proposal asked voters for a millage increase that would have provided almost $2 million for the Montcalm County Sheriff's Department.
The goal was to restore 24/7 road patrols in the county, and hire back three deputy positions eliminated earlier this year due to budget cuts. According to the department, the county won't be able to replace a deputy and sergeant who retired.
The sheriff wasn't available for comment, but Montcalm County Fire Association President Chris Johnston says the millage failure affects all aspects of public safety. His fire crews won't always have back-up, which is critical, especially on rural calls.
He and residents also worry about crime, including arson.
"Sometimes there's unruly people you could say, at fires, we have to have someone there, or illegal burns, we need someone there. Accidents, or where we're working big structure fires, we need traffic control."
"It's not going to go away if we don't have the officers here to try to stop it. It's not going to be stopped," said Lakeview resident Rebecca Hoaglin.
Hoaglin says she was for the millage, but believes many residents are struggling too much financially to have voted yes.