Warren seeks public safety millage renewals

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published March 9, 2018

 If approved by the state with or without changes to the language, proposals to renew Warren’s existing 0.9798-mill tax levies for police protection and fire and emergency medical services, last supported by the voters in 1998, would go on the Aug. 7, 2018 primary election ballot.

If approved by the state with or without changes to the language, proposals to renew Warren’s existing 0.9798-mill tax levies for police protection and fire and emergency medical services, last supported by the voters in 1998, would go on the Aug. 7, 2018 primary election ballot.

File photo by Brian Louwers

WARREN — This summer, Warren residents will likely be asked to consider whether to renew tax levies to support public safety that have been in place since 1980.

Separate proposals to fund “police protection” and “fire and emergency medical services” are heading to state officials for final approval, following the Warren City Council’s 6-0 vote Feb. 27 in support of a resolution authorizing the proposals. Councilwoman Kelly Colegio was absent from the meeting and did not vote on the question.

In materials sent to Mayor Jim Fouts by Chief Assistant City Attorney Mary Michaels, resolutions were requested authorizing separate 20-year renewals of 0.9798 mill each for police protection, and fire and emergency medical services, respectively. The millage was originally approved by the voters in 1979 and went into effect the following year. Five-year renewals were sought until 1998, at which point a 20-year levy was approved.

If renewed by the voters, each separate levy would cost property owners about 97 cents for every $1,000 of taxable value. For a home with a taxable value of $50,000, the tax would be about $48.50 for each of the two levies. The taxable value may be significantly less than the assessed value or the market value of a home.

Because this is a renewal, if approved, it would not add additional taxes.

The millages are separate from a 4.9-mill supplemental police and fire millage originally approved in 2012 and renewed in 2016, which administrators contend was needed to shore up public safety funding after property values plummeted in the late 2000s. At the time, officials said failure to pass the millage could result in a reduced number of first responders.

Ahead of the vote to authorize the proposal, Councilman Scott Stevens criticized administrators for not bringing the item to the council “on time.” The request was not originally included on the agenda for Feb. 27 and was added at the beginning of the meeting, but it nonetheless passed with little discussion.

“This is a very important item. This helps to fund our Police and Fire departments, and it’s sorely needed,” Stevens said. “Yet we got it, it was late getting to the council office, number one, and then we got the final update tonight as we were sitting down to the table. I’m sorry, but this is an important item and it should have been here on time with the rest of the packet.”

Voter approval of the 20-year levies would authorize the taxes through 2038.

If approved by the state with or without changes to the ballot language, the questions would go before voters as part of the Aug. 7 primary election ballot.

In 2012, 65.4 percent of the city’s voters supported the supplemental police and fire millage. A requested renewal in 2016 garnered a landslide 78.7 percent approval among the registered electorate.

The city has also sought additional support from the taxpayers for its libraries and local road repair efforts. Originally passed in 2011, the 2.1-mill streets tax was also renewed in 2016 with 75 percent voter support. A 20-year, 0.85-mill library millage addition was passed by 65 percent of the voters in 2010.