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Ottawa County parks millage vote set for August primary

Caleb Whitmer/The Holland Sentinel • Mar 11, 2016 at 11:00 AM

Ottawa County held a public hearing this week for a renewal of the parks millage, but the public didn't showed up.

Following Tuesday’s lackluster hearing, Ottawa County's commissioners approved the 0.33-mill request to appear on the Aug. 2 primary ballot. It’s then that voters will decide whether they want to renew the 20-year-old tax for another decade, generating an estimated $3.5 million a year for the maintenance and development of county parks.

The ballot question will ask for the tax to be both “renewed” and “restored.” A state law that lowers property tax rates based on inflation reduced the parks millage from 0.33 to 0.3165.

Ottawa County voters originally approved the millage at 0.33 mill, and parks staff are asking for that full amount to be restored.

The difference between is about $130,000 in annual revenue, according to County Parks Director John Scholtz.

For the average homeowner in Ottawa County, the restoration would mean an increase in the annual levy of about $1.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the Board of Commissioners approved a $729,000 grant application from the parks and recreation department. The grant money, which would come from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, would pay for part of the cost for purchasing 231 acres along the Grand River in Georgetown Township. The grant would cover 60 percent, while the park millage fund would pay for an additional $486,000.

Parks staff applied for the same grant in 2015 but were unsuccessful.

Commissioners also approved another parks grant application to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. This grant worth $300,000 would pay for part of the Spoonville Trail project, which itself would be part of the general trail system that the parks department is developing along the Grand River.

Besides this $300,000 grant, the total project cost of $2.1 million will be covered through a Michigan Department of Transportation grant, up to $340,000 from the county’s capital improvement fund and donations.

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