CHARLOTTE, Mich. —
During a special meeting Monday night, the Charlotte City Council voted unanimously to create a special assessment district that will provide dedicated funding for the fire department.
"If we did not take action now with the special assessment, we would be in deficit spending, which we're legally not supposed to be doing, starting in July of next year," said Mayor Michael Armitage.
Armitage said if the district didn't pass, the city would have had to lay off five police officers and three firefighters come July 1, if not sooner.
The city estimates that the district will generate about $828,000 annually. According to Armitage, the average price of a home in Charlotte is about $140,000, which means it would cost the average owner about $260 a year.
The special assessment district will free up money in the city's general fund.
Anyone in the city of Charlotte who normally pays property taxes will be subject to the special assessment for the fire department. That includes businesses and residents.
"If you're exempt by state law for property taxes, you would be exempt from this. So, things like churches, non-profits, disabled veterans in some cases," Armitage said.
During the public comment session, about 15 residents expressed their concerns, and some wrote in.
Kirstin Golding was one of many who spoke against the district. She rents in Charlotte and says her rent is set to increase as of next month.
"If we do have to increase taxes and he has to increase rent again, my family and our three kids are going to be homeless because we can't afford another tax increase," Golding said. "We can't afford to pay more rent. We should not have to suffer the repercussions of something that you guys failed to do."
Armitage said he understands this is a tough time for many residents.
"It's a hard place for council to be in, but we also know that it's going to have very negative community ramifications if we have to make significant cuts to public safety," said Armitage.
In addition to the district, the city will be looking at more than $250,000 in budget cuts.
To see how the special assessment will impact your tax bill, click here.
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