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Voters overwhelmingly approve museum millage renewal

Marie Havenga • Aug 8, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Voters in the cities of Grand Haven and Ferrysburg and Grand Haven Township overwhelming said “yes” to preserving the past and protecting the future by approving a six-year, 0.25-mill renewal of the millage for the Tri-Cities Historical Museum.

“It means a lot to us,” said Julie Bunke, the museum's executive director. “It's a big deal to us.”

The millage money accounts for about 60 percent of the museum's total funding and is used for programs, public outreach for adults and children, school programs, exhibit upgrades, and maintenance.

Grand Haven voters approved the measure 1,890 to 524 (78.3 percent in favor), Ferrysburg voters renewed it 559-269 (67.5 percent in favor) and Grand Haven Township voters supported it 2,637 to 1,105 (70.5 percent in favor).

“We are thrilled that we had that high of support from the three different communities,” Bunke said. “We're very happy we're going to continue to serve them and share the history of our community.”

The millage is estimated to bring in more than $350,000 from the three communities for the next year, and depending on property values, potentially more in the years following.

Spring Lake Village and Spring Lake Township voters will decide on the renewal proposal in 2020.

“They're staggered so we're not going around asking everyone at the same time for the same support,” Bunke said.

The museum attracts more than 65,000 guests per year.

“It (the money) is used to present the history to the community as well as our visitors,” Bunke said. “If I could bottle history and bottle nostalgia, I would definitely do that. I think the museum is the best place to preserve our heritage for the next generation. We're very happy about the results. We're overjoyed by the amount of support in the community.”

The other 40 percent of museum funds comes from gift shop sales, donations, grants and bequests.

“The 60 percent really is something we've come to rely on over the years,” Bunke said. “We've had the millage in place since 1986, but there's always a chance that it won't pass.”

The museum will celebrate its 60th year in 2019.

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