WYOMING, Mich. — Two ballot proposals failed Tuesday that would have lowered property taxes and enact a city income tax. Both proposals had to be approved for either to be enacted.
The first proposal would have lowered property taxes in the city, cutting their tax mill 11.8 down to 5 mills.
While voters approved this proposal, they voted against the second proposal.
That proposal would have enacted a city income tax — up to a 1% income tax for residents and businesses and up to 0.5% for non-residents. It would have made Wyoming the third city in Kent County to put an income tax in place, alongside Grand Rapids and Walker.
Neither proposal will go into effect.
“It was basically changing our taxation system to a system that was a combination property tax and income tax,” explained Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt.
“We can't cut the millage without finding another revenue source, so that's why they were put together the way they were.”
The city has struggled to keep up with demands on their police and fire departments in recent years, as calls for service continue to increase.
The increased tax revenue would have allowed the city to add 27 full-time firefighters and hire an additional 13 patrol officers.
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“We know that our residents have an expectation that we're going to respond to their calls, and there's some times when we just can't get to them because they're a low priority," Holt said Wednesday.
“Currently, we're very dependent upon other communities around us to support our fire department. That's unfair to those communities, because they pay taxes in their communities."
Holt says the city of Wyoming has seen more incidents of gun violence in the last three years than they had in the prior 10 put together.
"I know there are people out there saying, 'We have this money or that money,' and I would invite them in to have a discussion about that, because I think they're not representing the finances of the city of Wyoming appropriately," he added.
Joshua Lunger, senior director of Government Affairs with the Grand Rapids Chamber, previously voiced concern about the proposals passing, and the potential effect they could have on West Michigan.
"Employers are already struggling to fill jobs facing a talent crisis and are afraid this will make Wyoming less competitive for employment opportunities," Lunger said.
As the number of people living and working in Wyoming continues to increase, Holt says the city will find other ways to accommodate its people.
“We'll seek solutions; we'll find alternatives; we'll figure out a way to provide the best service we possibly can for the financing that we have,” he said.
And of course, Wyoming City Council can always bring the proposals up again during later elections.
“The next one is potentially November, if they choose to do something then, but again, counsel is going to have to make that decision.”
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