Wyoming leaders discuss property tax increases after failed income tax proposal

WYOMING, MI — Wyoming city leaders are considering several different property tax increase options to offer voters to fund approximately $6 million in annual public safety and parks needs.

The discussion in the Wyoming City Council on Monday, May 9 came a week after voters on May 3 rejected a possible funding solution that called for instituting an income tax but cutting property taxes in half.

During Monday’s business session, Wyoming city staff presented the council with three potential property tax increase options that the public body could bring to the November 2022 or May 2023 ballot.

There was no consensus among elected leaders on which of the three options to offer voters and on which ballot. City Council is expected to take up the issue at its meeting on Monday, May 16.

The income tax proposal failed on May 3 by a vote of 6,055 to 2,823, or 68.2% to 31.8%, according to official results from the Kent County Clerk’s Office.

It reportedly generated about $6 million in annual revenue and was used to hire 27 firefighters for the department that city officials described as understaffed and overworked, hire 13 additional police officers to enable a job of more proactive public safety and invest in repairs and replacements. in the aging park system, city officials previously said.

Related: Property tax hike, service cuts could be on the table after Wyoming income tax proposal is overturned

On May 3, Wyoming voters also narrowly approved a Wyoming public school bond proposal that will not raise taxes as well as a proposal that would have lowered property taxes if the property tax measure income was adopted.

“To me that means that people are hardly willing to maintain the same taxes and that’s a challenge that this body is going to have to overcome because soon we’re going to be asked to do the same or more with less.” -High Council Member John Fitzgerald said of the election results.

Related: Wyoming income tax plan would hurt competitiveness, business community says

The first two options presented to elected leaders call for funding some degree of public safety needs without additional funding for parks.

The first option would generate approximately $2.32 million annually for the fire and police departments and allow the City to fund the positions they currently have, including approximately 17 acting police and firefighter positions hired over the course of of the last year. Currently, six of these positions have funding over the next three years, but 11 do not.

The option would increase the current tax rate by approximately 8%, from 11.7404 mills to 12.6482 mills.

The dollars would allow the city to keep the additional interim police and fire stations. However, it would not provide enough staff for the city to reopen two of its four fire stations that were closed due to understaffing.

The second option would raise taxes by about 18%, from 11.7404 to 13.8464 mills, and generate about $5.38 million more per year for police and firefighters.

This tax increase would be sufficient to cover all the needs identified in the police and fire services and allow the services to retain acting positions and hire more of them.

However, this would not provide additional funds for the parks. The third option would be.

Under the third option, the taxes would be increased by approximately 20%, from 11.7404 mills to 14.081 mills.

The increase would generate $5.38 million for public safety as well as $600,000 for capital investments in parks. It would cover all the needs identified by the city.

Some council members have expressed concern about putting another tax hike measure back in front of voters in November after so recently rejecting the income tax proposal. They preferred to put the article on the May 2023 ballot.

Regardless of whether a tax proposal makes it to the November or May ballot, it would come into effect in the summer of 2023 if passed.

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