PARK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The Park Township board approved a public safety millage proposal Thursday that will now go before voters on the November ballot. The 1.5 mills incorporate other areas that are already in effect in the township, including the fire department’s funding and its contracted work with the sheriff’s department.
“We’ve merged that as a public safety millage with our existing fire department and our existing police services,” Township Manager Howard Fink said. The additional generated funds would lead “to engage in water rescue and essentially a marine division.”
Taxes will increase; however, it is unclear how much each homeowner will add to their bill as the board considers three options to offset savings caused by the fire department no longer falling under the general fund. With the average taxable value for a home in Park Township, the net increase in the tax bill for the Public Safety Millage could vary from $63.14 to $85.58.
“We are a community that is surrounded by water,” Fink said. “In order to do our part to protect our community and our citizens and the visitors we have recognized this need to improve or create a water safety component.”
Fire Chief Scott Gamby said that if approved, the new millage would help pay for the addition of fast-paced jet skis, a boat equipped for firefights and even a drone that could deploy life-saving equipment.
“You know time is the essence when we have a water rescue call,” Gamby said. “That’s why we’ve got to be able to have those resources available to us and have a quick response to make a difference.”
Gamby said there have been seven water rescue calls in Holland this year, with two of them occurring in the past four days.
The marine unit’s boat would also help fight boat fires from the water, instead of the shore.
“We have marinas on both sides of our lake that we protect, and we got to be able to provide fire protection for those boats. Currently, we do not have that now,” Gamby said.
Coast Guard Station Holland permanently closed earlier this year.