WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — A millage that will allow the city of Wyoming to hire more police officers and firefighters has passed.
The measure was approved with 64% of the vote. That means that beginning this summer, Wyoming property owners will see a 1.5 mill increase on their tax bills. The levy is expected to raise $4 million annually for five years.
“Job no. 1 is hiring police officers and firefighters. That will start really tomorrow morning. We will get those positions posted. It’s a fairly long process for those jobs, it’s kind of an intense vetting process that goes into that. … It could take six to nine months for us to see those men and women out on the street doing that work,” Interim City Manager John McCarter said Tuesday.
Despite having grown by 10% since the year 2000, Wyoming is operating with fewer staff in the public safety department than it did 23 years ago. Wyoming currently has 1.3 officers per 1,000 residents compared to the national average of 2.4. Wyoming will hire 14 more police officers. Some of the millage money will help the department continue focusing on community policing, traffic violations and crime prevention.
There are currently .35 firefighters per 1,000 people in Wyoming. That’s lower than surrounding agencies but Wyoming has one of the highest rates of calls per firefighter. The millage will allow the city to hire 13 additional firefighters.
City leaders say adding more public safety crews will help reduce response times for medical calls and fires. Right now, those response times can be five to six minute in some parts of the city.
“We don’t have enough staff or police in our fire department. Story goes back really to the Great Recession,” McCarter explained. “The taxable value here in Wyoming dropped about 18%. Along with that came layoffs and reductions in our head count and we just haven’t recovered due to limitations and how our properties have grown. The city has grown and our needs have grown too. So for us to provide the services that our residents deserve, we came with this ask: one and a half mills over five years.”
The millage will fund work at the Burton Street fire station and the one at Division Street, which is not currently operational. McCarter said construction on the fire stations will also utilize federal coronavirus relief funds and will start in the summer.