Commercial Record

Fennville to seek public safety millage

Fennville will seek a 4-mill levy for public safety in a special May election to cover rising police, fire and ambulance costs, Commercial Record correspondent Jim Hayden reports on his Bicycle Base Fennville blog.
The city commission, of which he is a member, approved asking Monday.
“The public safety millage is to continue the level of service we have,” said Mayor Dan Rastall. “It wouldn’t upgrade the level of service.”
The commission instructed city administrator Amanda Morgan to draft details of the proposal so the commission can vote at its Jan. 18 meeting to put the issue on the May ballot.
The spring election is necessary so the city can collect the money over the summer for next year’s fiscal year budget. That vote would be a special election with the about $2,000 cost paid for by the city, according to Morgan.
Though the police millage expired last month, the fire department levy of 0.9609 mill runs through 2023. The commission has not yet decided whether the city would continue to levy that tax if the 4-mill request passed.
The need for a public safety millage was brought on when voters rejected in November a change to the city’s charter that would have raised the limit on how much Fennville can charge in taxes from a maximum of 15 mills to 20 mills, the most allowed under state law. The millage could have been increased by the commission without a vote of city residents, though a public hearing would still be required before any increase.
The added funds would have allowed the city to collect more money to help fund the police and fire departments and ambulance services.
The Fennville Police Department’s budget increased from a planned $106,073 for fiscal year 2020-2021 to more than $136,000 this fiscal year.
The city’s share of the Fennville Area Fire Department budget increased from about $135,000 to an expected $141,700, according to Morgan.
The city pays about $42,400 for ambulance service as part of a six-community group.
The city’s general fund is about $684,000, meaning the three emergency services account for about 47 percent of the general fund budget.
If a 4-mill proposal passed in May, it could bring in about $96,000. It would not cover the about $320,100 for police, fire and ambulance, but the millage would allow the city to maintain its current services while moving money to cover other budget needs.

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