GH Twp. discusses transit millage renwal

Alex Doty • Nov 25, 2015 at 11:00 AM

GRAND HAVEN TWP. — With the renewal of the Harbor Transit millage looming next year, township officials discussed when they’d like to see the question brought to voters.

“The deadline is that we have to have the approved ballot language to the county on the Tuesday after the next board meeting (on Dec. 14),” Township Manager Bill Cargo said during a work session on Monday night.

Cargo updated the Board of Trustees about the millage renewal, and noted what the township’s options were for when they should place the renewal on the ballot.

Cargo said he recommends that the Board of Trustees place the renewal on the March presidential primary ballot for several reasons, one being that it comes at no cost to the township.

Another factor he said favors placing it on the March ballot is the number of items on that ballot, aside from the presidential primary.

“Right now, the only thing that will be on the March ballot is the county mental health millage they’re proposing,” Cargo said. “I think we can compete with that.”

Added Cargo: “We would have a renewal millage. Typically, those get better results, especially when you say ’look at what we’ve done.’”

If the millage renewal were to fail in March, township officials would have time to send it to voters again at a future election.

“If we didn’t get it approved in March, we’d have to put it on the August or November (ballots),” Cargo said.

Cargo said he’d recommend that the township consider the August ballot as a backup date due to the number of proposals slated for the November election.

“The November one is going to be a mess,” Cargo said. “This is just a weird year with elections.”

The 0.95-mill property tax funds the township’s portion of Harbor Transit service, as well as street resurfacing projects, regraveling rural roads and dust control on gravel roads.

The cities of Grand Haven and Ferrysburg, Spring Lake Village, and Grand Haven and Spring Lake townships are partners that collaborate to provide the on-demand bus service.

Ridership with Harbor Transit has grown by about 45 percent in the past five years, from 155,643 rides in 2011 to more than 225,000 this year. With Spring Lake Township voters recently approving service, ridership is likely to increase even more, Harbor Transit officials say.

Since the millage was approved by Grand Haven Township voters in 2011, the township has used that revenue for transit-related purposes, ranging from Harbor Transit to road improvements. According to the township, about 63 percent of the monies collected — about $1.8 million — have supported Harbor Transit service through the township.

Roughly 37 percent of the funds were used to supplement the township’s road maintenance program. When combined with General Fund monies and Tax Increment Finance funds, the township has budgeted about $3.5 million since 2011.

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