Fennville to vote on 4-mill public safety increase

Voters in Fennville will be asked for a 4-mill increase for public safety in a special election May 3, the city commission unanimously decided Tuesday, Jan. 18.

If passed, the millage would bring in about $90,200 in its first year to help fund the police and fire departments as well as ambulance services.

The money is meant to maintain current levels of emergency services, not to expand them, according to Mayor Dan Rastall.

The current Fennville Police Department budget is $135,993. The city’s share of the Fennville Area Fire Department budget is $141,706 – the city and Manlius Township pay equal shares of the department’s budget. The city’s portion of the ambulance services budget, split among several municipalities, is $42,435. The total emergency services cost makes up about 48.3 percent of the general fund budget, according to city information.

The proposed millage would allow the city to maintain its current services while moving money to cover other budget needs.

A previous public safety levy of 0.8 mill – reduced to 0.7621 due to state law — expired in December. The fire department levy of 0.9609 mill – originally 1 mill but reduced to state law — runs through 2023. The commission has not yet decided whether the city would continue to levy that tax if the 4-mill request passed.

A mill is $1 of tax on every $1,000 of taxable value on a home. For example, if the taxable value of a home is $50,000, then 4 mills would mean $200 in taxes.

The spring election is necessary so the city can collect the money over the summer for next year’s fiscal year budget that runs July 1 through June 30. That vote would be a special election with the about $2,000 cost paid for by the city. For the proposal to pass, three-fifths of those voting that day must approve it, according to the city charter, City Administrator Amanda Morgan told the commission. For example, if 50 people voted in the election, 30 people would have to approve the issue, not just a majority of 26, as in other elections.

In other business, the commission:

— Set 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 31, for a goal-setting workshop for the 2022-2023 fiscal year budget.

— Instructed the mayor to ask the downtown development authority if there is interest in allowing off-road vehicles in the city. The city now prohibits ORVs. Commissioners want to know if businesses want the added traffic.

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