RC considers new tax for police force

ROGERS CITY — Rogers City officials are looking at how a tax for law enforcement might impact the city’s budget.

City Manager Joe Hefele recently told the City Council that, if the city’s income continues to be stagnant or expenses ever grow faster than revenues, they have the option of levying a tax as part of a special assessment district to fund the police department.

“We keep getting hit with less money — tens of thousands of dollars of less money — and, at some point, to continue operations the way the town has grown used to, you have to look at ways — at least think about ways — to raise more money, and this made the most sense,” he said.

Hefele said the city could, but doesn’t have to, levy a large enough tax to fund the entire operating cost of the police department. Hefele estimated the police department has cost between $480,000 and $510,000 in recent years.

He said residents currently pay 36.4 mills and the businesses pay 54.4 mills.

A 1-mill tax costs property owners $1 of tax for every $1,000 of taxable value, which is typically about half of the market value of a home. So the owner of a $100,000 house would pay about $50 a year on a 1-mill tax.

Mayor Scott McLennan said the city’s police department still operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which is a fairly large expense for the city. But McLennan believes Rogers City residents like having that kind of coverage, as police are often the first ones to respond to a home during a medical emergency.

A tax for police “would free up additional dollars that could be used for other infrastructure items, such as streets, as an example,” McLennan said.

McLennan said the council would likely seek community feedback before considering a special assessment district.

“It would be something that would be very, very transparent,” he said. “It would be something people would see well in advance. It would be something that people would be able to weigh in on and the city manager is doing his due diligence offering up options to us.”

The mayor added that the additional growth and businesses being developed within the city will add to the tax base, which hopefully, would put the city in a better position, financially.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.