Public Safety Dept. formed if vote passes

 

IMLAY CITY — Voters will be going to the polls in a few weeks, across the region, including here in Imlay City.

More than 3,000 registered voters are being asked to cast their vote in a presidential primary which also includes a local issue on the ballot.

Chief Brett Selby

Citing an increase in operations for both police and fire services, city officials have decided to ask for a new eight- year millage to help support the departments and their rising costs.

If successful, the new 2.98 mill tax increase would allow the city to develop a public safety department.

Taxpayers would pay an average of less than fifty-cents per day, if there is a positive outcome.

During a meeting with the Tri-City Times Editor last week, city officials explained the new millage and it’s importance.

“First of all, I think it is important to point out that this millage, if successful, would be in addition to what is already budgeted for police and fire services,” said City Manager Craig Horton. “It is not a replacement.’

Police Chief Brett Selby added, “Both the police and fire departments have rising costs that are not covered by our current budget. The city has grown, and continues to grow, and both departments are busier putting in more time. It’s just a fact that it is getting more costly to do business.”

An informational flier has been prepared and is being distributed to registered voters, explaining the millage.

The flier states, “The funds generated from this millage are dedicated to and can only be used to provide police and fire services.

Mayor Joi Kempf said, “some time ago, the commission discussed the pros and cons of having our own police department. We looked at the overall costs and other factors. We also looked at contracting with the Lapeer County Sheriff Department for policing. A decision was made to keep our own police department. We felt it would be better for the city. That was when Chief (Brett Selby) came on and it’s been a great fit. He is doing a wonderful job with the department. We couldn’t be happier.”

In the flier, voters will see by the formation of a public safety department, it will strengthen the city’s ability to apply for emergency service grants as well as provide for additional funding to purchase fire and police vehicles.

In 2021, the police department responded to over 2,200 calls for service. In 2023, the number of calls nearly doubled and is expected to have another dramatic increase in 2024, according to Chief Selby.

“We are already off to a busy start this year,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised at all to be around 5,200 calls. That is quite an increase, compared to the 2021 numbers.”

A couple of other benefits to the millage, if passed, is the fact that it would allow for the Fire Chief to become full-time and let Chief Selby hire two additional officers.

“There are a lot of building inspections that are not being done,” said Imlay City Fire Chief Keith Klobucar. “We need to work on installation of smoke detectors and CO2 detectors. Those are extremely important, especially the CO2. With more people working from home now, the risk is higher for situations resulting from a defective furnace.”

A successful millage would also allow for the creation of a Hispanic Liaison Officer position (for both police and fire) to better serve the growing Hispanic community.

In addition, there is a strong need for an administrative assistant to handle both police and fire related matters, allowing police and fire personnel more time to be out in the community.

The additional funds generated by a successful millage would allow both departments to increase training for staff members, both in-house and outside of the community.

The need for new police and fire vehicles is not going to go away. The millage would allow both departments to address that issue.

“We have fire trucks that are 25 years old or more,” said Fire Chief Klobucar. “Trucks are a million dollars or more and the delivery wait time is unbelievable. We keep our fingers crossed.”

Chief Selby added, “Our patrol cars, we have two that are in serious need of replacement. Both have more than 130,000 miles and are 10 years old. The millage would let us utilize a rotation of patrol vehicles so we aren’t in the situation we currently are.”

Another police unit has over 100,000 miles while yet another will be at the 100,000 mile mark by the end of the year according to the Chief.

Currently, the police department has 11 employees, nine of whom are full-time. Should the millage pass, Chief Selby said he would be asking the city commission for two additional employees, both being funded from millage dollars.

“Based on the information provided by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, we should have 15 to 16 officers,” the Chief explained.

“Along with our 3,700 residents (census count), we have another 32,000 travelers up and down M-53 every day, according to MDOT. We need more officers so we can better patrol areas such as the Van Dyke corridor and other trouble spots,” he said.

Voters will have nine additional days, prior to the scheduled election, to cast their vote, thanks to new legislation that requires clerks to provide opportunity for early voting.

Election Day is February 27. Absentee ballots will be available through the city clerk’s office. Imlay City residents will be casting their votes at city hall.

However, the city and Imlay Twp. have agreed to join forces for the nine days of early voting, with each entity having election booths set up at the township hall on N. Fairgrounds Rd.