Photo by Gabriel Goodwin
Emergency Manager Joyce Parker addresses residents’ concerns about the police and fire millage proposal at her Coffee with the EM meeting Thursday at Maple Heights Retirement Community, 4600 Allen Road.
By GABRIEL GOODWIN
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK — Voters on Aug. 6 will decide the fate of the city’s 3.5-mill request to support the operations of the Police and Fire departments.
“To balance the budget, I have to come up with $2 million,” Emergency Manager Joyce Parker said. “I have to close this gap and I can only do it one of two ways: Plan A or Plan B.”
Parker said Plan A is the millage proposal amending the current 3.5 mills expiring at the end of the 2016 fiscal year. If passed, she said, there would be an increase of 3.25 mills dedicated to funding the Police and Fire departments and would last 10 years to provide a long-term option to stabilize the city’s finances and eliminate deficit spending.
“The additional mills are necessary to maintain existing police and fire services at their current levels,” Parker said. “Without the additional levy, service delivery will me modified and may decrease compared to the current level.”
She said the current millage would not raise enough money or provide enough time to support current police and fire staffing, and the millage will be reassessed every fiscal year to determine if there is still a need for the millage.
The millage will have a rollback provision that would allow her or the council to decrease the millage once the city has met its expense and the reserve goals. The total mills cannot exceed 6.75 mills, she said, and the increase would keep the police and fire service at the response times residents expect.
“When the city no longer needs the additional income, there would be no reason to maintain the higher millage” she said. “So, it doesn’t have to remain in effect for the full 10-year term.”
Parker said Plan B includes deeper reductions in staffing in the Police and Fire departments, along with other cuts to city hall and a special street lighting assessment. The Police Department could be reduced to 29 officers, she said, while the Fire Department could be reduced from 23 firefighters to 8 firefighters.
Street lighting costs the city about $500,000 annually, and these costs would be passed on to the residents in Plan B, and she said city hall would be closed on Fridays.
The city’s 16 precincts have been consolidated into five precincts for this election and all voting will take place at the Municipal Auditorium in City Hall.
(Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at [email protected])