In a previous post (Issue 24 – Request For Questions) I asked for resident questions about the upcoming Issue 24 on this November’s ballot. I will be posting the questions I received with the answers. Please send questions to me at email@example.com or send them via the contact form.
If issue 24 fails, will police and fire be getting more money than they already get right now? I’m under the impression that no matter if this issue passes or fails police and fire will still be getting the same amount of money. (If it passes, funds come from the general fund. And if it fails, funds come from inside millage and if more is needed it comes from the general fund)
Passage of Issue 24 would affect next year’s (2021) tax budget. The budget includes 2.4 mills specifically dedicated to police and fire (.7 for Police Pension, .7 for Fire Pension and 1.0 for Police and Fire Capital). This money is 100% dedicated to these funds and CANNOT be spent on anything else (General fund, clubhouse debt, etc.).
These would be effectively eliminated. Additionally, we need to maintain flexibility with our unused millage. Think of it as the City’s credit: we would never want to max it out. That’s why the people that say “we’re leaving them with 2 mills” are incorrect in my opinion. If 24 passes, we would most likely never utilize the entire 2 mills – it would do severe damage to our bond rating, our ability to get grants, etc. The City’s Municipal Bond Advisor Matt Stuczyinski has confirmed this.
During the September 22nd Finance Committee meeting, Mr. Stuczyinski had this to say:
- “Any reduction in financial flexibility weakens the City’s financial profile”
- “If it (the millage) is reduced it is a tremendous credit negative”
- “Any way you slice it…it is a credit negative”
I asked, “So just the fact that it’s on the ballot will be a negative?”, to which he responded, “You’re exactly right”.
That being said, your understanding of the pension portion is correct. The Police & Fire Pension Funds would continue to get the amount needed to cover those costs. Increasing the dedicated pension millage provides a more stable revenue source to provide for these payments and decreases the drain on the General Fund.
Police & Fire capital needs would be different as having a dedicated revenue source could allow for more available money for those departments. Should safety capital needs in a given year be less than the dedicated revenue, the remaining funds would be saved for future expenses specifically for Police & Fire. Capital needs for safety include: fire trucks, med units, police fleet, equipment, and station improvements.