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 firstname.lastname@example.org or send them via the contact form.
If the issue passes, will it defund the safety forces? If we need an expensive piece of equipment like a new pumper or ladder truck, is the money readily available for the purchase or if the issues passes, will it take a vote of the people to approve the expense?
I think this is a related follow up question, would the yes vote absolutely affect the police/fire or could other services be cut instead and reallocated to the police/fire.
First and foremost, the Administration and Council is committed to funding the Safety Forces regardless of the outcome of Issue 24. Those funds will continue to come from the General Fund at the expense of other line items.
The City’s millage increase is earmarked 100% for our safety forces. The goal was to have a total of 3 mills designated for Police and Fire. Specifically the police/fire pension millage will increase from .3 to 1.0 mill each. Additionally, 1.0 mill was to be designated for Police/Fire Capital expenses. Each mill will generate approximately $650,000 annually. Should Issue 24 be passed the Capital funding will cease to exist. (It should be noted that if Issue 24 passes the millage earmarked for the pensions will also be rolled back.)
As you point out, equipment for these operations is extremely expensive. The anticipated capital funding is critical establish a reserved source of funds to pay for police cruisers, dispatch equipment, replacement of fire vehicles and future expansion and upgrades to the facilities. Currently the Fire Department is waiting on delivery of a $900,000+ ladder truck with expectations that a new med squad and additional ladder truck will need to be replaced in the near future. Police vehicles generally have a life span of 3-4 years.
If Issue 24 passes the City will need to explore alternate funding options for these needed capital purchases. Options include, proposing a police and/or fire levy to the residents; placing an income tax increase on the ballot; cancelling other capital projects and shifting those funds to police/fire; free up funds from other more discretionary line items (i.e. leaf/branch pick-up, city paid refuse contract, resident snow plowing program, spacing out of road projects, etc.). Of course the City always applies for grants and any outside funding to ease the burden of these expenses.