Public Safety and Parks Funding For The Future

Funding for the Future banner

In May 2022, Wyoming voters will be asked to consider two ballot proposals that, taken together, will provide future funding to:

  • Support critical public safety and parks needs.

  • Make the City more financially sustainable by diversifying revenue sources.

  • Minimize the overall tax burden on residents.

One proposal would lower property taxes while the other one would assess an income tax on both residents and non-residents who work in the City. The ballot proposals would generate approximately $6 million in additional revenue each year by collecting 0.8% of income from residents and businesses and 0.4% of income from non-residents who work in Wyoming. This additional funding would allow the Department of Public Safety to add 27 firefighters and 14 police positions, as well as provide $600,000 annually for capital investment in the City’s parks system. Read more about what the proposal would fund here:

Fire

Staffing levels in the Fire Department are too low. Minimum staffing does not provide the department with enough firefighters on any shift to safely enter a structure fire. The department relies heavily on assistance from surrounding communities – receiving support from other departments nearly 140 times in 2020.

The City’s firefighter staffing levels are significantly below neighboring communities. In 2020, there were nearly 90 times when all on-duty firefighters were responding to calls and there were no available firefighters to respond if other emergencies occurred. This creates longer response times, times where there are no firefighters available and burnout for first responders.

Below is how the City of Wyoming’s firefighter staffing compares to neighboring communities.

If residents approve additional funding for public safety, two additional fire stations would be staffed 24/7. Staffing would also be increased from seven to 13 on each shift, which would reduce response times, decrease the amount of time the City doesn’t have firefighters available to respond to calls and reduce the reliance on other local fire departments.

City

Population

Firefighters

Firefighters per 1,000 population

2019 calls for service

Calls for service per firefighter

Lansing

118,210

119

1.01

22,579

190

Grand Rapids

201,013

195

0.97

24,124

124

Kentwood

51,898

42

0.81

4,606

110

Portage

46,445

30

0.65

5,097

170

Muskegon

36,565

21

0.57

5,078

242

Holland

33,216

18

0.54

3,852

214

Wyoming

75,667

27

0.36

6,792

252

Police

The City’s current revenues do not meet the community’s needs around public safety because of the increase in violent crime and calls for medical service. The City has 1.2 police officers per 1,000 people, which continues to fall below the national average of 2.4 and decreases response times to critical incidents.

Due to the volume, complexity and severity of calls for service, police officers have less time for proactive, self-initiated activities. Over the past five years, our City has seen a steady increase in violent crime. In 2020, for example, the City experienced 65% more violent crimes than in 2015. The City also experienced a record number of homicides and “shots fired” calls in 2020.

Similar to the critical staffing levels in the Fire Department, there are times when there are no police officers available to respond to calls for service. A serious situation can consume most officers on an entire shift, leaving few, if any, to respond to other emergency or non-emergency calls for service.

If voters approve additional funding for the Public Safety Department, there will be more officers assigned to shifts and give officers time for neighborhood, school and business visits, property checks and more. These proactive efforts will give officers more time to build community-police relationships.

The City of Wyoming ranked No. 7 out of 533 municipalities in the state with a total of 46 pedestrians killed in traffic-related crashes from 2015-19. Traffic safety has been identified by community members as a top priority, and additional funding would allow for a dedicated traffic unit with the Department of Public Safety to focus on driving safety.

Additional funding would also provide more staff in the department’s investigative division to assist with the nearly doubled caseloads since 2008. Cases continue to grow more complex, requiring detectives to specialize in specific areas. The additional funding also would allow the City to dedicate detectives to cell phone, internet and computer crimes, the Drug Enforcement Agency Task Force and general cases.

Parks

The current Parks and Recreation millage – approved by voters in 1995 – is not adequate to support both the operational and capital needs of the City’s Parks and Recreation Department. The City manages 21 parks, almost 700 acres of parkland, including 2 lodges, 17 ballfields, 7  football and soccer fields, 14 shelters, a total of 32 basketball, tennis, volleyball and pickleball courts, 17 playgrounds, 4 splash pads, a skate park, 2 nature preserves and the Wyoming Senior Center – many of which are due for critical infrastructure upgrades.

Tax calculator

Want to see how these proposals change the amount of taxes you pay? Check out our tax calculator.

Public Meeting Information 

Unable to make it to a public meeting or want to follow along? Click here to view the presentation. 

What is on the ballot?

This section includes the actual questions that will be voted on with a short summary and what happens if each passes or fails. You can learn more about elections in Wyoming on the City Clerk's webpage. You can also view a sample ballot and your voter information on the Michigan Voter Information Center webpage.

Question #1: Shall the City of Wyoming levy a city income tax at a rate not to exceed 1.0% on corporations and resident individuals and 0.5% on nonresident individuals beginning on January 1, 2023, pursuant to the city income tax act, 1964 PA 284, as provided in the uniform city income tax ordinance adopted by the Wyoming City Council?

In other words: Should the City be able to levy an income tax? Although the language allows the City to levy up to 1% for residents and 0.5% for non-residents, current estimates are the City will likely need to levy only 0.8% for residents and 0.4% for non-residents to generate enough revenue to fund the needs identified below.

If this question passes: The City can levy an income tax beginning in January 2023. For a household of three earning $60,000 per year, a 0.8% income tax equals $432 annually, or $16.62 biweekly.

If this question fails: The City cannot levy an income tax and question #2, which lowers property taxes, automatically fails. The City’s current taxing structure remains unchanged.

Question #2: If the city electors approve and the city levies a city income tax, shall the Wyoming City Charter be amended to limit property taxes levied by the City of Wyoming to no more than 7.545 mills ($7.545 per $1,000 of taxable value) beginning July 1, 2022, then further limited to no more than 5.0 mills ($5.00 per $1,000 of taxable value) beginning January 1, 2023?

In other words: Do you want to lower the maximum property tax millage the City can levy? If Question #1 – authorizing a City income tax – passes, City property taxes can be lowered substantially while still providing for additional revenue to support the needs identified below.

If this question passes: The City of Wyoming property tax millage is lowered over the next two years, eventually limited to 5.0 mills ($5 in taxes for every $1,000 of taxable property value). For a home with a taxable value of $100,000, this means a reduction of $690 in taxes by 2023.

If this question fails: Question #1, which authorizes the city to levy an income tax, automatically fails and the city's millage rate does not go down. The City’s current taxing structure remains unchanged.

Where does the money go?

The additional revenue that would be generated by these proposals would fund 27 additional firefighters and 14 additional police positions and provide $600,000 in annual funding for Parks capital needs. This section outlines exactly what would be funded and why it is needed. 

Fire Department: 27 additional firefighters ($3.3 million annually)

These additional positions would bring the total number of fire suppression staff to 54. Here are some key facts about this need:

  • The current fire suppression staff is 6 – 18% fewer than in 2003. Between 2003-19, calls for service have increased 44%.

  • The City has historically relied on paid on-call firefighters to supplement full-time firefighters. However, following a national trend, the City has seen the number of paid on-call firefighters drop significantly due to increased training requirements. The City currently has 7 paid on-call firefighters – compared to 38 in 2003.

  • Current minimum staffing does not provide enough Wyoming firefighters on any shift to safely enter a structure fire. They either have to enter the building without backup, putting their lives at unnecessary risk, or wait for backup.

  • In order to respond to all calls for service, the City relies heavily on mutual aid support from surrounding communities. Wyoming received mutual aid from other communities 133 times in 2020 but only provided mutual aid 40 times.

Additional staffing would:

  • Allow the City to again staff all of its fire stations 24/7.

  • Reduce response times.

  • Decrease the amount of time no Wyoming firefighters are available to respond to calls

  • Reduce reliance on mutual aid from other communities

Police Department: 13 additional officers, 1 data analyst ($2.1 million annually)

Additional officers would serve in Patrol (4), Detective Bureau (3) and Community Services/Traffic (6). Here are some key facts about this need:

  • Due to the volume, complexity and severity of calls for service, police officers have less time for proactive, self-initiated activities.

  • Over the past five years, our City has seen a steady increase in violent crime. In 2020, for example, we experienced 65% more violent crimes than were reported in 2015. We also experienced a record number of homicides and “shots fired” calls in 2020.

  • Current minimum staffing of 6 or 7 officers on a patrol shift means many of our calls for service, including emergencies – have to wait for officers to become available.

  • Our current police staffing of 1.2 officers per 1,000 residents continues to fall below the national average of 2.4 and the average of other cities our size which is 1.5.

  • The City of Wyoming ranked No. 7 out of 533 municipalities in the state with a total of 46 pedestrians killed in traffic-related crashes from 2015-19.

  • In every annual survey, community members place concerns about traffic safety at the top of their list. In 2020, we had 2,047 traffic crashes, resulted in 10 fatalities.

  • Caseloads for detectives have almost doubled since 2008, but only one additional Detective Bureau position has been added since that time.

  • We currently have only one detective assigned to a multi-jurisdictional drug task force. This is not enough to address the opioid problem we face in our community.

Additional staffing would:

  • Increase the number of officers who can visit neighborhoods, schools and businesses and check on properties. 

  • Dedicate one detective to cell phone, internet and computer crimes, one to the Metro Enforcement Team or Drug Enforcement Agency Task Force and one for general casework.

  • Provide a staff member embedded in the Police Department dedicated to crime analysis to allow the department to better utilize data to guide decision-making and prevent crime.

Parks & Recreation: Annual Capital Funding ($600,000 annually)

The needs include:

  • The current Parks and Recreation millage – approved by voters in 1995 – is not adequate to support both the operational and capital needs of the City’s Parks and Recreation Department.

  • City parks built 25-plus years ago are now in need of capital investment to maintain current service levels.

Want to Learn More?

Residents, business owners and other community members can attend any of the meetings below:

  • Feb. 2, 2022: City Hall, 7:00 p.m.
  • Feb. 16, 2022: Senior Center, 7:00 p.m.
  • March 2, 2022: Gezon Fire Station, 7:00 p.m.
  • March 9, 2022: Del Mar Community Room, 7:00 p.m.
  • March 15, 2022: Godwin Heights High School, 7:00 p.m.
  • March 24, 2022: City Hall, 7:00 p.m.
  • April 19, 2022: Kent District Library – Wyoming Branch, 6:00 p.m.

The public meetings will be held in various community locations around the City including City Hall, Godwin Heights High School, Gezon Fire Station and more. Meetings will take place in the evenings and residents and community members can expect to hear from Mayor Jack Poll, Police Chief Kimberly Koster, City Manager Curtis Holt and others.