There are less than 30 days until voters will be entering the polls for the Nov. 5 general election. In addition to deciding the next mayor and who will join the City Council and the local utility board, Grand Haven voters will be able to make their opinions known on an infrastructure millage. The proposed Forever Grand Haven 3-mill levy would be a perpetual millage, phased in over the next 15 years as the current 3.419 mills expire.
During the Grand Haven City Council meeting earlier this week, attendees watched a short video explaining the proposal.
“The first mill would be authorized upon the expiration of the Community Center and Brownfield levies in 2021,” it was explained in the video. “The second would be authorized upon the expiration of the 2008 infrastructure bond in 2027. The third mill would be authorized (upon) the expiration of the 2015 infrastructure bond in 2035. The proposal poses no greater tax burden than what the citizens of Grand Haven currently experience.”
Money collected from the millage would go directly into city infrastructure, which includes roads, sidewalks, waterlines, sewer pipes and storm drains. The proposed millage would not be based on debt, but would be a “pay as you go” system, the video said.
Monday night’s audience heard that city engineers conducted a study this year that reveals the total value of Grand Haven’s infrastructure is approximately $560 million. With roughly $45 million in projects to maintain existing infrastructure, the city could invest $4 million per year should the proposed millage be approved next month.
The proposed 3 mills could deliver an estimated $1.8 million per year by 2035, and coupled with grant funding and money collected via utility bills, “future Grand Haven taxpayers and utility customers could be able to keep up with financing a modern, safe and reliable infrastructure system,” according to the video.
Due to state election laws, City Manager Pat McGinnis could not encourage or discourage voting for or against the proposition, but he did say that if the millage is approved, tax rates would not increase and the city would be less reliant on paying interest on bonds.
“I can say, factually, that if the millage passes, we will have the capacity to almost keep up with infrastructure investment without over-reliance on Lansing and Washington,” McGinnis said.
More information about the ballot proposal can be found at grandhaven.org and at informational town hall meetings scheduled throughout the month. Meetings are set for 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16, at D&W Fresh Market; 10-11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, at the Grand Haven Community Center; and 4:30-5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, at the Mary A. White Elementary School’s library.
Other topics to be discussed during the town hall meetings include major amendments to the city’s Zoning Ordinance and an update on the city’s five-year recreation plan.