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Leaders make final push for public safety millage renewal

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published July 27, 2016

WARREN — Warren’s police and fire leaders say the city’s public safety millage has been an investment well worth making.

Voters will get a chance to renew the tax for five more years when they head to the ballot box on Aug. 2.

In August 2012, 65.4 percent of Warren’s registered voters who took part in the election voted in favor of a five-year, 4.9-mill public safety proposal that officials said would bolster the general fund and allow administrators to maintain police and fire staffing at the then-current levels. If the millage would have failed, they cautioned, the city would have been forced into deep cuts in public safety, including at least 60 first responders.

Warren Police Commissioner Jere Green said voter approval of the millage levy for another five years, beginning in July 2017, would keep patrol officers on the roads and responding to calls for service.

“I’m confident the residents understand and respect the need for public safety,” Green said on July 19. “We’ve added four police officers this year. They mayor’s administration has always backed us.”

He said Warren residents have always backed the department as well, and that they clearly recognize the importance of the job the city’s law enforcement officers do.

“The reason we catch bad guys in Warren is because we have troops on the road. I think people recognize the need for it,” Green said. “Even more so now, the way things have been happening lately, and police experiencing these ambushes and things like that. It’s amped up the need to be even more diligent, providing officers on the road.”

Warren Fire Commissioner Skip McAdams said passage of the millage helped the Fire Department weather rough financial waters after it was passed in 2012.

He said it also helped the city deal with damage from real water, too, after flooding in August 2014 knocked virtually the city’s entire fleet of frontline EMS transport trucks out of service.

“We spent approximately $725,000 to replace our entire fleet. That was a direct result of  having resources available with the successful millage in place,” McAdams said.

The result today, McAdams said, is an award-winning, first-class EMS transport program that continues to save lives even as calls for service increase. He said the Warren Fire Department responded to 14,717 calls for service in 2011 and 17,756 in 2015. Projections put the department over 18,000 for 2016, an average of more than 49 a day.

A millage renewal would continue to ensure the city has the equipment and the personnel to respond, positioned at all six neighborhood fire stations in Warren.

“We’ve been very stable. In fact, we’ve increased services during this period as a direct result of the millage,” McAdams said. “I think the people are very happy with the level of service. I’m hopeful they’ll continue to support us going forward. We work for them and the service is for them.”