Village Council to consider city option again

A village councilman wants to resurrect a hot topic of years past, potentially changing the village government structure.
Marie Havenga
May 5, 2014

Councilman Steve Nauta, who was part of the committee that explored cityhood beginning about six years ago, said he wants to explore the current relationship between the village and Spring Lake Township.

Village residents are part of the township and currently pay taxes to both municipalities. In turn, the township provides services to the village such as fire protection, assessing, elections and resident-rate cemetery privileges.

Nauta said he wants to make sure that’s the most effective and efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

“What do we get for our taxes that we pay the township, and how does that relationship work?” he posed. “It might be fair taxation — I just don’t know it. It’s not obvious to me. I don’t think anyone likes paying taxes to both (township and village).”

Village Manager Chris Burns said the topic will be put on a future Village Council work session agenda, possibly as soon as May 12. But Burns cautioned council is in the process of working through a lot of other matters at this time – police protection and budget issues – and that the discussion could be brief.

“Until four of seven elected officials give me a directive to pursue cityhood, I cannot expend my limited resources on it,” she said.

The village’s most recent quest for cityhood derailed on a technicality with the State Boundary Commission. Proponents at that time estimated the average taxpayer would save less than $40 a year if the village became a city, because township-provided services could be expensive to replace.

“It is imperative that community leaders not sell cityhood as a cost savings until they do a very comprehensive cost/benefit analysis,” Burns said.

Transitioning from a village to a city requires a petition signed by at least 1 percent of registered voters, public hearings and approval by the State Boundary Commission.

Nauta said he is not necessarily in favor of changing the village’s form of government, but he wants a discussion.

“We just never finished the matter,” he said. “I have some questions about the taxes we pay (to Spring Lake Township) and what we get for that. I don’t know if anybody else feels that way.”

To read the whole story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



Who runs the Village of Spring Lake - Christine Burns, or the Council. I applaud Mr. Nauta for having the courage to call for an investigation of an unsettled and ongoing problem.
Ms. Burns has destroyed the Village's police department, and contracted out financial services. The Village Clerk, a long-time admin assistant, and the police chief were fired, as well as an inspector. All the Village has now is Christine Burns and the Department of Public Works - which is now headed by Ms. Burns' Cedar Springs buddy. It would be to the benefit of Village residents to look into a change in their governmental structure.
Odd, isn't it. Ms. Burns had no trouble firing Village workers, but does not have the time to investigate a Councilman's request? It appears she really wants to make sure she keeps HER job!


You might want to go back to your government 101 class Regina. Even if the village decides to become a city it doesn't mean that the manager goes away. Your city has Mr. Bessinger so how would Spring Lake changing to a city negatively impact Ms. Burns job? There would still be a manager. Her recommendations are supported by her employers or she wouldn't have a job. If you don't approve, sell your house in Ferrysburg, buy a home in Spring Lake, run for council and oust her. Oh wait. You would still only be one vote on that side of the lake just like you're only one vote in Ferrysburg.


I think it is time to dissolve the Village and eliminate Chris Burn's position. The Township could run the Dpw and handle one or two clerks. No Village, no paying extra for Police Services. Why pay extra when you can get police services for free. If the Village wants their own Dpw then have them pay a special tax but dissolving the Village makes more and more sense now.


"Quin", you seem to have a lot of knowledge about SL governmental affairs. Perhaps you have some inside knowledge? If not, one would almost think you live there but we know that's not the case is it?

Do you have proof the police chief was fired as you claim? According to the GH Tribune article on February 20, 2014 he resigned and a separation agreement had been negotiated along with a signed confidentiality pact. It appears that you know much more and aren't hampered by that pesky confidentiality agreement. Care to expound on that?

Keep writing "Quin", things are about to get very interesting.

Back to you....

TooMuch think you know who Quinn is and want to publish that? I hope you are really sure! I think you are either Chris Burns or Bill Burns, which is it? Care to admit? Neither of you get how things work around here. Whomever Quinn is, the person is spot on! Once Chris facilitated the "firing" of the Clerk, the Police Chief and others, there became no need for the Village. Yes Chris, not the council. As the Tribune said Burns is in charge of personnel and we believe everything the Tribune prints. We don't need a City. There are no services being provided that cannot be obtained in another manner that wouldn't save the Village citizens a lot of money. As Burns says, it is all about the money, nothing personal even though it would only have taken two years to dig out of the money problem. Funny...that is exactly when the Police Chief was to retire after 26 years of service to his community. "WaterWing", (Bill) what's your threat about? Can't wait to hear it? You gonna do low a fly by? Chris must be getting really frustrated. Karma will get to you like that.


My goodness Too, somebody put a bee in your bonnet today! Let's see, where do I start? You think you know who I am, huh? Not even close my friend. Care to try again?

Now about me wanting to publish who "Quin" is; I believe if you read carefully you will see it was another contestant who dropped a name. That's okay, no apology needed.

Threat? Me? No way would I do that! I merely asked how "Quin" had all of this inside information. Like you, I seldom believe all I read in the Trib but "Quin" seemed to be able to give us another version. I was only reiterating what the Trib said regarding the police chief's exit and wondered how "Quin" would be able to know what the real facts were when there was, according to the Trib, a confidentiality agreement in place. Maybe that's not the case since, as you said earlier, "We believe everything the Tribune prints" (I'm guessing that was sarcasm) so maybe "Quin" could shed some light on it. Pretty basic stuff.

My only concern would be if there is in fact a confidentiality agreement in place and an informed party violated that agreement then wouldn't that place that person at risk for legal action? No such agreement then no problem, let's hear your facts. See, I'm just trying to help "Quin" stay on the right side of the law. You've got me all wrong.

Now as far as me doing a fly by? Nahhhh, not going to happen since we all know if man was meant to fly he would have been given tickets and they are waaaay too expensive!

Chris is frustrated? If you say so, Too. I certainly wouldn't argue with your observation as you seem to know a lot about the Burns....and Karma.


Oh snap, chagrin with a shy smile and redirecting at Details. Guess in my rush, my "details" were off but my point made. Please accept my apology! Most of what is being read here has been said before so what Quinn is sharing isn't new or a secret. As you said, pretty basic stuff if you care to go back and read all the comments on this subject. Quinn is as much on the right side of the law or more so than "the Burns" as I hear it. In fact, you can read the Village minutes and read part of the Settlement Agreement in it, certainly a violation if one wanted to make a fuss. That's just how bright the Burns is. But I haven't heard anything first hand from either of them, especially not knowing who Quinn is. As to knowing a lot about the Burns and her frustration, I only know what is being said at our Village roundtable, etc., and the consensus is (unfortunately) that she has a long history behind her in other municipalities of poor behavior. She hasn't developed good relationships with business colleagues or her employees. Some could say she was hired to "fire people" which I doubt. Regardless it's not always what you do but how you do it. She isn't trusted. Bringing her Cedar Springs buddy up here didn't help her. And you betcha, many of the people who work for or with her are betting on Karma. Just ask a few of her former employees from her former jobs, including a City Manager.


Wrong on your guess Too. I'll give you some hints if you're curious about my identity. I am a Spring Lake taxpayer and voter. I am not a former employee or city manager. Like others I would like the truth about Burns penchant for turnover and wonder why the Tribune has not requested copies of the personnel files and enlightened their readers. Seems like that story could produce tons o'comments in this forum, which the Trib loves. You admitted you only "know what is being said at the village round table" which doesn't make your comments credible, it just makes you a busybody with TooMuch time on your hands.


TooMuch, Well said. The President of the Village Council should be recalled. Some of the Village Council claimed not knowing what was happening. Burns did not dare to fire without Jimmies ok!!! So he kept from the Council and the citizens. Hmmmm. I smell a rat !!!

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