New 8-year millage for police and fire protection?


IMLAY CITY — At a time when residents and business owners are still trying to adjust to a substantial increase in their water and sewer rates, they may also be looking at having to pony up more in taxes for a newly developed Public Safety Department.

During last week’s city commission meeting, members approved a resolution that will place the issue on the ballot sometime early next year.

The resolution calls for a vote on funding for the Public Safety Department that, if approved, would be for 2.98 mills for eight years.

Based on current property valuations, the proposed millage would generate $364,139 in the first year.

Imlay City Police Chief Brett Selby (right) and Fire Chief Rick Horton have worked with city officials on developing a new Public Safety Department. Imlay City taxpayers will be going to the polls early next year to determine if they will support the additional 2.98 mills in new taxes.

Multiplied out over the eight-year the life of the millage, if voters approve the new tax, the city would take in roughly $2.9 million, based on current property values.

Due to a narrow window of opportunity for submitting the wording for the ballot yet this fall, City Manager Horton said the soonest it could be voted on is in February of 2024.

The commission also had the option, and the authority, to simply assess the millage. However, the board felt the public should decide the funding outcome.

An ad hoc committee previously met with the chiefs of police and fire to determine the costs to run the departments.

When the topic was first discussed in August, City Manager Craig Horton stated, “In the plan for the new safety department, there is a request for new positions, some additional staffing within the police department. We do not have the funding in our budget currently to add two positions to that department.”

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 voters approve the concept of a Public Safety Department, there would be options to fund new positions.

“It is certainly within the Commission’s rights to levy a tax assessment citywide, to help pay for additional staff” Horton told the commission in August. “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 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.

Most members of the Commission appeared to be in favor of the Public Safety Department concept. Most also agreed the two departments should remain as they are, utilizing their own budgets.

The biggest change would be in where the funding for the departments comes from.

Discussion has also been held as to whether or not their would be a new Director of Public Safety or if the departments would simply be under the supervision of the city manager.

City Manager Horton has said if the millage were to be successful, the relief on funding for the two departments would be a burden taken off a tight budget for the city’s general fund.