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NORA wants city to provide admin services

Alexander Sinn • Sep 10, 2018 at 11:00 AM

The Northwest Ottawa Recreation Authority (NORA) has asked the City of Grand Haven to take over its administrative services.

NORA services are currently handled by Grand Haven Area Public Schools, but the district ended its contract this year.

When NORA became a recreation authority in 2009, a Michigan public act did not allow schools and municipalities to join together as part of the authority. That has since been changed, and GHAPS aims to join the city as a member of the authority. The district will become a more equal partner, NORA Director Jill Vander Stel said, adding both an appointed and elected official to the NORA board.

The city currently handles administrative duties for other authorities, including the Northwest Ottawa Water System, Harbor Transit and the Grand Haven/Spring Lake Sewer Authority.

These partnerships are a good use of tax dollars, Grand Haven City Manager Pat McGinnis said.

“It’s not a bad deal for the city, not a bad deal for authorities,” he said.

The city would assume administrative duties in January 2019. For the first eight months, the city would charge $30,000, compensating for upstart costs, and thereafter about $25,000 annually.

The Grand Haven City Council reviewed the proposal at its meeting last week, with Mayor Gerri McCaleb calling the added services an “opportunity” for the city. 

“We need to look at ways to keep NORA viable and operating within our community,” McCaleb said.

NORA will continue to receive contributions from Grand Haven, Grand Haven Township, Robinson Township and Ferrysburg, and in-kind contributions from GHAPS such as facilities and offices. The majority of NORA’s funding comes from sponsors and participant fees, with 35 percent coming from municipality contributions.

For participants in NORA programs, Vander Stel said, not much will change.

“NORA will continue to have great programs and be able to provide for the community in the same way,” she said. “It won’t look any different to our customers.”

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