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Local governments looking at service collaboration

Kyle Moroney • Jul 21, 2015 at 10:59 AM

The cities of Grand Haven and Ferrysburg, Spring Lake Village, and Grand Haven and Spring Lake townships — with help from the local Chamber of Commerce — have applied for a grant to conduct two studies for collaboration: police and fire service, and fleet maintenance. The Grand Haven and Spring Lake school districts have also been included in the fleet maintenance study.

“I think everyone in government is looking at ways to provide high levels of service cost-effectively,” said Joy Gaasch, president of the Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven-Spring Lake-Ferrysburg. “And that’s what facilitated this whole process.”

“The cool thing is we have political support (for this) all across the board,” Grand Haven City Manager Pat McGinnis said. “In the past, there’s been maybe a little skepticism and people wondering what everyone’s motives are. But now we know what our motives are — to work together and save taxpayer dollars.”

The grant would cover half of each of the two studies with funds through the Shared Public Services Initiative, administered by the Michigan Municipal League Foundation, foundation President Arnold Weinfeld said. The other half would need to be funded by the five local communities or other funding sources.

The $48,000 fleet maintenance study and the $75,000 police/fire study would both be conducted by Plante & Moran, a Grand Rapids-based audit and accounting firm, according to Gaasch. However, local communities might have to prioritize one study over the other should the MML be unable to provide funding for both studies.

Currently, Spring Lake Village shares a police department and bookkeeper with Ferrysburg, and a fire department with Spring Lake Township. The village’s collaboration will take a step further when it partners with Grand Haven city and Spring Lake Township in sharing planning and zoning services.

Another collaboration project is also under way between Ottawa County and Grand Haven officials.

The city and county recently submitted a grant application to MML to fund half of a separate $30,000 study on collaboration conducted by Plante & Moran. Of the remaining cost, the county would fund two-thirds and the city would fund one-third.

That study would be used as a model for any future collaboration efforts between the city and county, or with other municipalities in the county. It could be used to see how a variety of services could be collaborated — whether it be the city doing something for the county or vice versa.

“If you can get the same job done for $1 that costs $2, do it for crying out loud,” McGinnis said.

To read more of this story, see today’s print edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

Tribune reporter Alex Doty contributed to this story.

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