WYOMING, Mich. — Wyoming residents and city officials gathered on April 30 against the backdrop of a burned down home to call for support for a public safety millage.
"This millage passing and additional hiring of the additional officers [and] firefighters will help reduce that response time for emergencies," Wyoming Mayor Kent Vanderwood said. "And that's what this is all about."
According to city officials, the millage would raise roughly $4 million for the city's Public Safety Department and cost residents $150 for every $100,000 in taxable home value.
A previous effort to raise funds for the department through an income tax increase was rejected by voters last year. It will be up to voters on May 2 to decide whether a millage to do the same is the right choice.
"Wyoming Fire Department responded to 7,090 incidents in 2022, which is an average of 645 incidents per firefighter," Vanderwood said.
"We have currently 1.3 police officers per every 1000 people," Vanderwood said. "The national average is 2.4. We simply do not have enough police officers to cover all of our shifts and do the things we need to do."
One of those speaking at the event, Wyoming resident Lauren Gohlke, said she nearly lost her one-month-old boy before first responders were able to arrive.
"It looked like my son was dying on the floor in front of me and my one month old was dying," Gohlke said. "It felt like hours but I can tell you with absolute certainty it wasn't that. It was mere minutes before Wyoming P.D. showed up."
With the millage's ability to fund 27 more firefighters and police officers, according to the city's mayor, Gohlke said the potential to cut down response times is key to her as she and others head to the polls on Tuesday.
"This is really, really important," Gohlke said. "The lack of having timely first responders because you never know, I mean, we got that fast response. But what if there's multiple calls of the same priority? If we don't have those first responders, then people are not going to get the care."
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