WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Wyoming is heading back to the drawing board after an income tax proposal failed on Tuesday night’s ballot.
Currently people living in Wyoming are subject to a property tax only. The two-part proposal on the May 3 ballot would have established an up to 1% income tax for residents and 0.5% income tax for nonresidents.
The city says the proposal would have generated an estimated $6 million over the course of a year. As a tradeoff, the second part of the proposal would have lowered property taxes over the next two years, eventually limiting it to 5.0 mills or $5 in taxes for every $1,000 of taxable property value.
Voters struck down instituting an income tax, which meant the second part of the proposal automatically failed as well.
The money was set to help fund 27 additional firefighter positions, which the city says is critical need. Right now, the city says they have 33 full-time firefighters to staff four stations. With the 33 firefighters, the city is only able to staff two of the four stations full time.
The money would have also allowed the city to add 13 additional officer roles and a data analyst position to the police department.
It also would have generated dollars to fund the $600k annual capital funding to upkeep city parks.
“If you look around the city of Wyoming, you’ll find that in most every department that we have, the city department is a very lean operation. Our police department is small by comparison for 76,000 residents in 24 square miles and I think you can look across West Michigan or Michigan and you won’t find a department that is that lean,” said City Manager Curtis Holt.
Holt said the city has been discussing ways to generate more revenue for the last few years as the community continues to grow, driving the demand for services up.
“We’ve seen a great increase in the number of fire calls and rescue runs that we go on and then on the police side we’re just seeing a complexity of calls that are far more dynamic than it has been in previous years. The number of gun violence calls we’re experiencing have gone up dramatically in the last three to five years,” Holt said.
To meet the demands for services, Wyoming firefighters have been relying on help from departments in neighboring cities. Holt said their neighboring city partners have indicated the additional help is not sustainable for them. The city manager also said relying on other departments affects response times.
“What happens now is if we have two calls come in at the same time, we have to call somebody else to come in and when we call somebody else, let’s say they’re coming from Grand Rapids or Grandville or Kentwood or Byron Township, that response time is now almost double,” the city manager added.
The city says although the results at the polls did not go as they’d hoped, the need to increase revenue generation to support city services remains.
Holt said the city council will now have to decide whether they will send the income tax proposal to ballot again this year.