Tax assessment or millage possible for funding


IMLAY CITY — While further discussing Imlay City Police Chief Brett Selby’s Succession Plan at their meeting last week, the Imlay City Commission explored funding options that eventually led to an idea of the city possibly developing a Public Safety Department.

“In the Chief’s proposal, there are some new positions for additional staffing,” explained City Manager Craig Horton. “We do not have the funding in our budget currently to add two positions to the police department.”

A concerned citizen stands at the podium and addresses the Imlay City Commission regarding the use of the city fire siren.

Horton went on to say, “there are several other areas, like inspections of homes, rental property, fire inspections, those sorts of things that are not being done either.”

The city manager said if the commission chose to move forward with the concept of a Public Safety Department, there were some options for being able to fund new positions.

“It is certainly within the Commission’s rights to levy a tax assessment citywide, to help pay for additional staff. You could also do a Public Safety millage, that if successful, would fund both the police and fire departments.”

In Chief Selby’s proposal, the city would hire two additional staff along with promotions within the department.

Horton also suggested the Fire Chief, currently a part time position, could become full time with the Chief taking on the responsibilities of inspector as well as fire department duties.

The police department, following Commission approval, took the first step of hiring additional staff, welcoming Javier Sanchez to the department.

Sanchez was at Tuesday’s meeting to greet the Commission. Chief Selby said the new officer was beginning classes at an Oakland County police academy the following day.

The Chief was able to secure a grant to fund his new officer’s schooling and uniforms and first nine months of work.

City Manager Horton told the Commission representatives from each department would have to meet and come up with financial information as to what a tax levy would look like, or how many mills it would take if a ballot proposal was voted on.

Due to a narrow window of opportunity for a millage issue yet this fall, City Manager Horton said if the board decided to let the public have a say with a ballot question, the soonest it could be voted on is in February of 2024.

Most members of the Commission appeared to be in favor of the Public Safety Department concept and agreed further discussion needed to take place to iron out details.

Further, most agreed that the two departments would remain as they are, using their own budgets. The biggest change would be in where the funding for the departments comes from.

In other Commission news, members once again heard from a concerned citizen who lives near the fire whistle by city hall. The resident stated, “we are being terrorized” by the fire siren. The citizen said he feels something else could be done to alert the firefighters to a call.

Fire Chief Rick Horton was in attendance at the meeting and informed the crowd, “I agree. It has gone off a lot. But, we have also been busier than normal in both June and July, so it has gone off more.”

The Chief said the department responded to 21 calls in June and another 23 in July. “That is double the call volume for those months that we normally have,” Horton stated.

The Chief told the Commission he, “totally disagrees with shutting off the siren. We can’t pick and choose when it goes off, for what type of calls. If we get dispatched, it’s going off.”

Chief Horton also reported to the board that the new set of Jaws of Life have arrived and are in service. The department is awaiting the arrival of a new fire truck that could take up to 36 months to be delivered.