Police and Fire Millage Increase Proposal

Police and Fire Millage

2024 Police and Fire Millage Increase Proposal 

City of Kentwood voters will consider a permanent dedicated millage increase on the May 7 ballot that, if approved, would provide critical support for police and fire services. If passed, the increase would enable Kentwood’s Police and Fire departments to hire additional staff members and maintain response times to meet the community’s growing need for service.

As the city of Kentwood has continued to grow, the demand for police and fire services has also risen. Since 2010, Kentwood’s population has grown by 11.5%, rising from 48,707 residents in 2010 to 54,303 residents in 2020, according to U.S. Census data. During that same time, police calls for service have risen by 14% and fire calls for service have risen by 36%.

The dedicated millage increase would provide a sustainable funding source to support and enhance Kentwood’s police and fire operations for at least the next seven years, supporting initiatives like:

  • Addressing critical personnel needs, enabling police to add, train and support vital additions to the team. The increase would allow KPD to increase its minimum staffing level from three officers and a sergeant to five officers and a sergeant.
  • Enabling the Fire Department to add another EMS unit in the future when the demand for emergency services exceeds current staffing.
  • Funding the replacement of necessary police and fire apparatus and other equipment, which have seen significant cost increases in the past few years.
  • Supporting the creation of a basic outdoor training facility for police and fire that would eliminate the need for travel expenses and overtime for training purposes, ensuring cost-effective and up-to-date training practices.
  • Funding increased simulation-based training for police and fire personnel, helping team members build essential skills so they can make informed decisions in real-time that protect community members, property and fellow emergency personnel.
  • Adding updated technology and equipment to protect police and fire team members and community members.
  • Enabling both police and fire to focus resources on prevention and education and be more proactive in addressing community issues.
  • Enhancing police and fire recruitment and retention efforts as fewer individuals pursuing careers in these fields continue to create staffing challenges.

The permanent millage increase proposal of 1.95 mills was approved by the City Commission on Jan. 9. If approved, the increase would be levied starting July 1, 2024. It is expected to generate more than $5.1 million in its first year.

A mill is 1/1000 of a dollar, or 0.001 cents. If a tax rate or millage rate is 1.95 mills, a resident is taxed 0.00195 cents for every dollar, or $1.95 per $1,000 of the taxable value of the property. For example, for a residential home with a taxable value of $100,000, the cost of 1.95 mills would be $195 per year, or $16.25 per month.

In the first year, the millage increase would support critical police personnel needs, enabling KPD to add, train and support vital additions to the team. It would also be used for necessary police and fire vehicle and equipment updates, which have seen dramatic cost increases in the past few years.

In subsequent years, the City would use millage dollars to increase simulation-based training, add a basic training facility and offer more opportunities for prevention and community education. As Kentwood’s population continues to grow, the dedicated millage increase will also allow KFD to add an additional EMS unit when demand for emergency medical services exceeds current staffing.  

Kentwood’s Police and Fire departments are known for their responsive service to the community. Surveys sent to community members who called for police service in 2022 found 94% reported they were satisfied with the service they received from KPD.

The Fire Department has an emergency response time goal of 5 minutes and 20 seconds – and frequently responds to calls even faster. In 2022, the department’s average response time was 5 minutes and 8 seconds. The City has a tremendous advantage in maintaining its own police, fire and emergency responders, who know residents and the community better and can respond faster in times of emergency. 

Police and Fire Millage Increase Proposal Frequently Asked Questions

What are voters being asked to consider?
Voters are being asked to consider a permanent dedicated millage increase that, if approved, will provide critical support to the city’s police and fire services.
What would the millage increase pay for?
The dedicated millage increase would provide a sustainable funding source that will allow police and fire to increase staffing to meet growing needs for public safety and emergency medical services and maintain response times.
Why do you need additional staff?
Kentwood’s minimum police staffing level is three officers – the same as it has been since 2000 despite a significant rise in population and call volume. The millage increase would allow KPD to raise its minimum staffing level to five officers to better meet increased needs for police service.

When responding to EMS calls involving potentially dangerous situations or situations involving mental health issues that require police support, fire first responders have experienced delays due to current police staffing levels. Additional police staff would help improve fire response times in these situations.

How much would this dedicated millage increase cost me?
If approved, homeowners would pay an additional 1.95 mills per year. For example, a resident whose home has a taxable value of $100,000 would be assessed $195 annually, or $16.25 a month.

What is a mill? A mill is 1/1000 of a dollar, or .001 cents. If a tax rate or millage rate is 1 mill, a resident is taxed 
Why does the City need more funding for police and fire?
The city of Kentwood has experienced significant population growth in the past 10 years, which has led to increased needs for police and fire services. Since 2010, Kentwood’s population has grown by 11.5%. During that same time, police calls for service have risen by 14% and fire calls for service have risen by 36%.

Current millage funding has reached its maximum impact. The dedicated millage increase is necessary to maintain current service levels and provide additional funding to increase staffing to meet growing needs for police, fire and emergency medical services.

Why would the millage increase be permanent?
A permanent, dedicated millage increase would ensure the City has a sustainable funding plan to add staff and make critical equipment upgrades to meet police, fire and emergency medical needs now and for years to come.
What happened to the last police and fire millage?
The last permanent police and fire millage was passed in 2010 and expected to maintain police and fire operations through 2020. The City has leveraged these dollars for four additional years than originally projected. As Kentwood’s population has grown, funds levied from this millage have reached maximum impact, meaning more funding is necessary to provide additional fire and police personnel to meet growing demand for service.
Why aren't the taxes I currently pay enough for police and fire services?
Current general funds and millage dollars have not kept pace with Kentwood’s population growth and associated increase in calls for police, fire and emergency medical services.

Additionally, costs associated with police and fire vehicles and equipment have risen dramatically in the past few years. As certain vehicles and equipment near the end of their useful life, replacements need to be purchased at these increased rates.

How much funding do police and fire receive each year?
Currently, our Police and Fire Departments receive a total of $22,083,700 per the city’s current fiscal year budget. This includes $4,800,000 from the city’s general fund and $17,283,700 from the current police and fire millage.
What about state and federal funding?
While the city sometimes receives state or federal funding for police and fire services, this money is not guaranteed. A dedicated millage increase would provide a sustainable source of funding to support and enhance police and fire services in Kentwood.
What happens if the millage is not approved?
If a dedicated millage increase is not approved, Kentwood would need to make significant cuts to services offered and to police and fire personnel, which would harm quality of service and response times.