Just under 1,800 of the township’s 11,609 registered voters (15.5 percent) turned in ballots for Tuesday’s millage election. Of the total votes, 877 were absentee ballots.
The five-year transportation tax will include about 0.45 mill for the Harbor Transit expansion into the township; as well as provide funds — about 0.5 mill — to repair, construct or reconstruct roads, bridges or drainage structures. This equates to about $95 per year for a home with a taxable value of $100,000, according to Township Manager Bill Cargo.
Although the millage rate will change from year to year, depending on ridership levels and state and federal funding, it will remain flat for each of the participating municipalities: the cities of Grand Haven and Ferrysburg, and Spring Lake and Grand Haven townships, officials have said.
“I think this is a plus for all the residents in the township,” Grand Haven Township Supervisor Karl French said Tuesday night. “The majority of voters recognize that we need to maintain our streets and supplement that fund to maintain good streets, as well as provide transportation for all walks of life — which takes us a step in that direction.”
French and Harbor Transit Director Tom Manderscheid were awaiting the millage results at the Township Hall after the polls closed Tuesday night.
“Harbor Transit is very excited with the vote,” Manderscheid said. “We are looking forward to moving forward, and hoping to do a nice job of representing the
Grand Haven Charter Township residents. So we’re pleased.”
A majority of the election results were calculated fairly quickly after the polls closed at 8 p.m. However, voting machines at the two precincts located at Lakeshore Baptist Academy had issues with entering absentee ballots, giving a different result from the poll book, Buitenhuis said.
“Because they were off, they had to have someone from the county clerk’s office come reset the machines and then run the ballots all back through a second time,” she said. “It wasn’t really an issue — sometimes that just happens.”
Now that all the Harbor Transit member communities have approved the bylaws to form a transportation authority, and that Grand Haven Township voters approved a millage to expand into the township, plans are in the works to get buses rolling through as early as January or February, Manderscheid said.
“The next step for us will be to begin to form the authority, and then meet with that authority and get some guidance as to how we want to proceed as a group informing what I call the ‘new’ Harbor Transit,” he said.
The transportation authority will include two members from each of the participating communities, as well as a member-at-large — likely from the public — to form a nine-member committee.
“It’s very nice to see the units of government for the past two years sit down and work out all the details of bringing it to this point today,” Manderscheid said Tuesday night. “Each person had a vital role in what we’re attempting to do — and it was very, very rewarding to see that we’re all on the same page.”
French agreed, stating it is time to work cohesively with other municipalities, especially as gas prices continue to spike past $4 per gallon. “The collaboration with other communities to provide services is an important thing in today’s society,” he said.