Posted on 10 May 2012.
Kent County voters sent Grand Rapids Community College the same message Tuesday that they’ve sent three times since 2007: NO NEW TAXES.
The college had asked for a $98 million bond proposal to upgrade facilities, and it was soundly defeated by a vote of 26,417 (no) to 19,856 (yes). While Grandville, Northview and Lowell also had millages on the ballot, most communities had nothing else on the ballot, which led to low voter turn out.
Voters in Grandville nixed a $22.85 million bond proposal by a narrow margin—only 38 votes. There were 2,508 no votes, to 2,470 yes votes.
Lowell renewed their operating millage, and Northview passed an $11.9 million bond proposal.
In Montcalm County, Pierson Village President Karl VanHaren survived a recall election by three votes—24 to 21. He has filed a recall petition against three of the trustees involved in the recall against him: Rebecca Starr, Duane Grifes, and Verna Smigiel. That vote will take place in August.
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Posted on 15 December 2011.
School to seek sinking fund millage for repairs
The Cedar Springs Board of Education voted Monday evening, December 12, to hold a special election on February 28, 2012, to seek a one-mill “sinking fund” to help finance repairs, renovations, and remodeling.
The school has been forced to cut millions of dollars in expenses the last few years, due to cutbacks in funding from the state of Michigan, which means some repairs have been put on hold.
One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of taxable value of property. If the taxable value is $50,000, the cost would be $50 for the property owner. The millage would last 10 years and then cease.
“We’ve tried to maintain the buildings and roads the best we can, but there are things that need to be done,” said Asst. Superintendent David Cairy.
Road repair is one of the items that a parent group came up with. “We have a lot of miles of road on the campus,” noted Cairy. Other items include replacing boilers in the old buildings, improving parking at Cedar Trails, improving safety and security at building entrances, eventually replacing the turf on the football field, and other items.
Cairy emphasized this millage would not be for new construction, just repairs. “We are at a point (financially) where we really need it,” he said.
The school had put this proposal on the ballot last year but it was defeated. They decided to try again because they need the money, and because they said many parents had contacted them and said they didn’t know about it last year when the election was held.
Board votes no on OK conference realignment
The Cedar Springs Board of Education unanimously voted NO Monday evening on the realignment proposal from the OK Conference. Under the plan being proposed, Cedar Springs would be part of a new division—the OK Bronze—made up of six teams—Cedar, Forest Hills Northern, West Catholic, Greenville, Northview, and Forest Hills Eastern. They would play non-conference games in weeks one and two, crossover games with the Green and Gold in weeks three and four, and conference games in weeks five through nine.
“We are in a 8-team conference that has worked well for us,” said Suprintendent Ron McDermed. “Some teams are quite aways away.”
Principal Ron Behrenwald agreed. “It’s more transportation costs, more time on the buses. From a student standpoint, it’s not the best option,” he said.
School districts across the area are also voting on the proposal. Athletic Supervisor Autumn Mattson said that there is some talk that the proposal may not pass by the 2/3 vote needed, and that they would know for sure on Monday after the last two districts vote. She said it’s unknown whether they would leave things the way they are if it’s defeated, or go back to the drawing board. “It’s never happened before,” she said.
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Posted on 05 May 2011.
Cedar Springs Public Schools Board President Joe Marckini and trustee Jeff Gust held on to their seats in Tuesday’s election, with challenger Misti Bowser coming in a close third. Gust received 868 votes (41 percent); Marckini received 671 (32 percent); and Bowser received 576 votes (27 percent).
The sinking fund millage for repairs was defeated with 684 NO votes to 629 YES votes—a difference of only 55 votes.
School officials say that they are looking at $2 million in cuts this next year, and that the passage of the millage would have helped keep cuts away from students. Superintendent Ron McDermed said that the vote puts them back at square one. “I think the advisory committee came up with as conservative of a plan as they could,” he said. “The question now is, how do we continue to maintain repairs while facing state cuts? They keep taking more and more away.”
McDermed explained that the board’s thinking in approving the proposal was “do we want to cut things for kids? The answer was no. But we’ll move forward now the best we can, and keep kids in focus as much as we can.”
He said that if the millage had been approved, they were looking at spending $500,000 a year on repairs and maintenance to infrastructure and roads. That money will now have to come out of the general fund. Cedar Springs is unique as school districts go, because they have miles of road through the campus, and don’t sit on a public street.
Noting the low turnout at the polls, McDermed said they need to have a conversation with the community about the proposal to see if this result is what they really wanted. “I’d like to listen to people who were opposed and find out what they have to say. If it looks like this result is definitely what the majority wishes, we’ll abide by what they decide.”
If it looks like the majority of people want the millage, but just didn’t turn out to vote or didn’t understand what they were voting on, or just plain didn’t know about it, there is the possibility it could be brought back to the ballot in November.
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