LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Council to decide on millage issue

May 11, 2011


By eliminating nine positions, canceling capital improvements and delaying equipment purchases, we have reduced the projected shortfall to $150,000.  The 2011-12 staff reductions and cuts in projects and purchases will bring this deficit down to zero.

In 2006, the city issued $15 million in Brownfield redevelopment bonds. The money the city borrowed was invested in infrastructure (streets, water and sewer lines, storm sewers), parking and environmental cleanup in the north end of the city.  That value is already working to the benefit of Grand Haven residents.

The Grand Landing project was a planned part of the payback mechanism — new taxes on their new property investment would pay the annual debt service. 

Unfortunately, the mortgage crisis of 2008 caused that investment to be of less value than otherwise anticipated; something no one could have predicted. 

Payments due on bonds will overtake funds available in 2015.  City Council would need to come up with $1 million per year to make the necessary payments if we do nothing.  Further general fund spending cuts will be made; however, our best projections have us coming up short of needed funds in four years.

When north end property is developed, all property tax revenues generated will be used to repay the city’s general fund for any dollars used to pay bonds today.  No funds will be used to reimburse private parties for anything; all funds will be used for bond obligations. 

The question before council is: do we levy a smaller (0.75 mill) tax now (and in ensuing years) or do we wait for 2015 and levy a significant sum (2 mills per year) at that time?

City Council intends to answer this question on May 16. 

— By Pat McGinnis, Grand Haven City Manager



This is what happens when a governmental entity gets into real estate development!

common cents

The question before council is: do we levy a smaller (0.75 mill) tax now (and in ensuing years) or do we wait for 2015 and levy a significant sum (2 mills per year) at that time?

Option Three:
In times of slow economic growth you need to cut back. If you don't have the money to do a project, you don't do it. It may hurt, but it is time to look at deeper and lasting cuts to reach a balanced budget.

Sadly, basic financial skills are lost to the city members.


"In 2006, the city issued $15 million in Brownfield redevelopment bonds" is this the same thing as the S.W.I.S.S. tax hike to pay for new sewer, water infrastructure? What about the water/sewer hikes to pay for new sewer/water lines? What about the 12% pay hike for the next three years for our water/sewer bills to pay for what? Are we replacing everything with solid gold pipes?

"That value is already working to the benefit of Grand Haven residents", exactly how am I benefiting from this? None of my sewer/water lines have been replaced. The Grand Landing development has added more traffic and congestion to our streets. My cost of living has increased significantly from the tax hike and water/sewer hike. I can't afford to water my lawn or garden anymore. The only people I see who benefit from this is the downtown business who now have heated sidewalks during the winter, which bcuz of all the traffic and congestion I avoid. Plus during the summer you can't ride your bikes downtown, so they pretty much lost all of my business anyways.

I naively thought that maybe my tax would go down or at least stay the same for quite sometime with all of this investment going on to help all the current and future businesses. I thought with all the added traffic and congestion, a trade off would be for my taxes to be lowered with all the new additional tax revenue coming in. Even now if the economy turns around and we start getting lots of tax dollars coming in there is no refund or even canceling of the millage, it will all go into the general fund for the next project we can't afford.

The Mayor has already said he won't run for re-election. Who ever replaces him, I hope their first order of business is to eliminate the City Manager position. I hope the second order of business is to come up with a fiscally responsible budget plan that the citizens of Grand Haven can actually afford.


Being a transplant to this city for 1 1/2 yrs., I don't profess to know everything about it. Maybe that 's a good thing, as an outside opinion can often be helpful. My question would be: Why is there such a large police presence (state,sheriff,local) in a city that has such a small crime rate...according to it's residents. I see an unbelievable amount of traffic $top$, and wonder when enough is enough. Also, It seems to me, that though the state park is not "officially" Grand Haven's responsibility, they surely benefit the most from the revenue it generates. It might be a thought to hire a lifeguard, as I don't see as much priority on lifesaving in the lake, on the pier, as law enforcement does on traffic stops. I guess I can say I am not impressed seeing and hearing cops in larger cities putting their lives on the line, while the only thing I really see here are cops getting $100 a pop for GH. I have also noticed talk of the tourists being nothing but a problem. Might need to rethink that mentality..., or not. Hey, maybe we should just send that money to Holland or Hoffmaster.


The real estate development of Grand Landing should of never landed in the laps of the tax payers. this is unacceptably poor planning and more had better be cut from the cities budget to pay for it, not a rise in taxes. I am not benefiting from the water/sewer increase, the Grand Landing mess, or the snow melt as a citizen of the city.... not one benefit, just increased taxes. Thanks for nothing. I cannot wait to see some changes with the next elections.


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