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Grand Haven Twp. transit millage renewal to appear on March ballot

Alex Doty • Dec 18, 2015 at 10:00 AM

GRAND HAVEN TWP. — Grand Haven Township voters will be able to decide on the future of Harbor Transit service in the township during the March 2016 presidential primary elections.

The Township Board on Monday night approved ballot language for renewal of the transportation millage, which was approved by voters in 2011 to allow the Harbor Transit service to expand to the township. 

“It has been successful,” Harbor Transit Director Tom Manderscheid said. “I think the transition of having participation in the township has gone very well.”

The renewal request is for 0.95 mill, or 95 cents per $1,000 of taxable value. It’s estimated that the millage will raise about $671,678, with $50,000 “captured” by the Grand Haven Township Downtown Development Authority.

In November 2014, Spring Lake Township voters approved a similar proposal to bring service to that township, with rides starting this year.

The cities of Grand Haven and Ferrysburg, Spring Lake Village, and Grand Haven and Spring Lake townships are partners in a collaboration to provide the on-demand bus service.

According to the township, Harbor Transit ridership has grown by about 45 percent — increasing from 155,643 rides in 2011 to more than 225,000 this year. With the addition of Spring Lake Township, officials expect the ridership to continue to increase.

“There’s a lot of things that happen when you open up territories,” Manderscheid said. “We certainly embrace the idea of wanting to provide public transportation service to everyone.”

Since the township transportation millage was first implemented, it’s estimated that about 63 percent of the monies collected — about $1.8 million — have been used to support Harbor Transit service in the township.

“We like to think we’re providing a service to the public,” Manderscheid said.

By having all the communities in the Tri-Cities area linked, residents can travel to places they might not otherwise be able to, Manderscheid said, such as from Spring Lake Township to shopping and medical appointments in Grand Haven city and township, or vice versa.

“When you restrict people from not going into the township, that’s not a good thing,” he added.

Aside from Harbor Transit, a little over a third of the township’s transportation millage goes to supplement the township’s road maintenance program. The township reports that when combined with General Fund monies and Tax Increment Finance funds, the township has budgeted about $3.5 million for roads since 2011 and accomplished the following:

— Re-surfaced about 18.3 miles of local or subdivision streets.

— Crack-sealed about 49 miles of roadway.

— Re-graveled nearly 4 miles of rural roads.

— Applied 15 dust palliative treatments to the township’s 19 miles of gravel roads.

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