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Ferrysburg voters reject bayou bridge millage

Marie Havenga • Nov 8, 2017 at 9:30 AM

FERRYSBURG — Voters in the city of Ferrysburg defeated a millage request on Tuesday, 607-355, that would have levied up to 3 mills for 20 years to replace the Smith's Bayou bridge.

The millage would have cost $100 a year for the owner of a $200,000 home and brought up to $10.2 million into city coffers to help replace the bridge, which was built in 1972.

The estimated cost for the bridge work is $10 million. Engineering costs could add another $2.5 million.

The city applied for a state grant that, if approved next fall, could fund 85 percent of the project. If the grant request is denied, the millage money would have helped pay for the bridge repairs, according to City Manager Craig Bessinger.

Bessinger said if the grant request succeeds, the plan was to reduce the amount of millage levied.

Besides general maintenance, in 2008, Ferrysburg put a new deck and asphalt on the bridge, and also did some pier repair.

An engineering firm recently said that the bridge has deteriorated to the point that it needs to be replaced.

Bessinger said even though the millage proposal failed, he and city leaders still have to find funds to pay for the bridge.

“We're going to keep trying to look for funding opportunities, whether it's grants, millage, or a combination of both,” he said. “The engineer recommends it needs to be replaced. She's the expert and we have to find a way to make it happen.”

Mayor-elect Rebecca Hopp said she hopes the city can land additional state and federal grants to help fund the bridge.

Councilman Mike DeWitt said the money will have to come from somewhere.

“We have to make arrangements to replace that bridge,” he said. “That's something we're going to have to start addressing. Obviously, they didn't pass the bridge millage, so we have to squeeze $12 million out of the budget somehow. .... We will have to look at where we can get money to repair or replace that bridge.”

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