CHARLOTTE, Mich. — The city of Charlotte is looking to create a special assessment district that would provide funding for the fire department. The city council has set the rate to 3.75 mills if the district passes.
The district would cost the average owner of $100,000 house about $188 a year. The city estimates that it would generate $828,615 annually.
That would free up money in the city's general fund to help with other financial issues.
“If we don’t do this, we have to make very quick and very drastic cuts to our police and fire departments. Because really that’s where the bulk of our expenses are as a city government," Mayor Michael Armitage said. "We don’t have very many options. So I have to look at it also as what’s going to happen to the community if we have five less police officers or more on the streets.”
He said he understands this is a difficult time for many residents and any increase will be a challenge for some.
Terry Hansen has been a resident of Charlotte for 25 years. He said if the district passes, it will impact him because he’s on a fixed income right now.
“All this is going to do is increase our taxes even more during the pandemic. You know a lot of people aren’t working right now,” Hansen said. “You know they can’t afford the extra money. A lot of people are scrambling as it is. You know why make it worse.”
Charlotte has one fire department with two stations, one located downtown and the other on the west side of town. There are six full-time firefighters, but Armitage said they anticipate cutting at least three firefighters without the special assessment, which means they would have to close one of the two stations.
“Some people will be further away from the main fire station, so that’s going to affect response times which could affect also, you know, insurance ratings and safety, obviously. But it’s also a matter of being able to get trucks on the road. If you have one person working, they’re not going to be able to put out a fire by themselves, so they’re going to have to wait for those volunteers to get in.”
In addition to the assessment, Armitage said they’re looking at more than $250,000 in budget cuts. At this time, they don’t have specifics on where those cuts would come from.
There will be a public hearing on May 24. Armitage anticipates the city council will vote on the special assessment district at that meeting.
Click here to see how the special assessment would impact your tax bill.
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