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.”
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