Harbor Transit officials attended Monday’s board meeting armed with signatures from nearly 200 Spring Lake Township residents who say they are in favor of bringing the issue to the November ballot.
But several board members balked at the bus service proposal, including Township Clerk Carolyn Boersma and Township Treasurer Jim Koster.
“I’ve never been real excited about it at all,” Trustee Larry Mierle said. “Whether it would work here in the township, I don’t know. We don’t have a Wal-Mart or Meijer to draw people to or from.”
Rick Homan was the only township trustee to give the idea an enthusiastic thumbs up.
“But I’m a little concerned — maybe a lot concerned — about the timing because there are going to be a lot of millage requests,” he cautioned. “People are going to pick and choose what they want to spend their taxpayer dollars on. But, for me personally, I think it’s a great thing. I think it will help the township.”
Despite the lukewarm reaction, Grand Haven Transportation Director Tom Manderscheid, who oversees the local bus service, said his group will proceed with ballot language.
“I was hoping for a better outcome, but I think we had the majority (to put it on the ballot),” he said. “We are going to go forward with what we need to do.”
Manderscheid said a ballot proposal could be similar to what other communities are paying – six-tenths of a mill for five years. Those agreements run through June 2015.
Exact ballot language will be brought to the Township Board in July.
Manderscheid said he tried to get Spring Lake Township leaders onboard in 2010 when talks of Grand Haven Township joining the dial-a-ride routes. Voters in that community approved a millage for it and service was launched in January 2012.
Harbor Transit ridership grew more than 24 percent that year, according to Manderscheid. Last year, Harbor Transit buses carried 36,674 passengers in Grand Haven Township and more than 200,000 overall.
Manderscheid projects if voters approve a similar ballot proposal in Spring Lake Township, more than 32,000 residents would climb aboard in the first year. He anticipates increasing the number of buses from 21 to 27.
To read the whole story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.