LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Saving and sharing, the Grand Haven way

May 7, 2012


When the tradeoff is measured between customer service and dollars, we sometimes need to be very careful about what we “share,” lest we give up the public accountability that residents of Grand Haven treasure.

A recent proposal to have a variety of city administrative functions transferred to Ottawa County was declined by the City Council during an evening work session on April 23. This proposal was not a sharing of services, but was a transfer of service provision from Grand Haven City Hall to the Ottawa County Fillmore Street complex. City Council members expressed concern about customer service expectations and public accountability if we were to transfer these functions to the Fillmore Complex, 15 miles from City Hall.

Grand Haven city councils have embraced sharing and saving for years. We maintain a list of 50 active collaborations at City Hall — three of these contracts were signed within the last year. The contract with Ottawa County for assessing services with will save us over $80,000 this year and our information technology arrangement with the Grand Haven Area Public Schools will save $60,000.

The city is also a partner in two new service authorities born in recent months — the Northwest Ottawa Recreation Authority and Harbor Transit.

If we find that collaborations cause service levels to diminish, we will go back to doing things the old-fashioned way with in-house efficiency.

The city does share, but we are not abdicating long-held responsiveness and customer service expectations. See the following link for a list of 50 active collaborations: grandhaven.org/news/138/198/.

We remain an independent home-rule city, but we sure do a lot of collaborating on a broad regional scale!

— Pat McGinnis, Grand Haven city manager


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