Voter approval of Grand Rapids parks millage keeps Transformation Plan on track
Patrick Center November 18, 2013 | WGVU When City Manager Greg Sundstrom took office nearly four years ago, Grand Rapids was saddled with a $33 million deficit with a $110 million operating budget.
“The city was almost on the edge of bankruptcy.”
The way the city operated needed to change. In the short term, 500 employees were let go. Workers who remained received a pay freeze with reduced compensation. Grand Rapids needed a long term plan for success.It introduced a strategy from the auto industry; lean manufacturing which eliminates any step not creating value. Running leaner along with a 2010 voter approved temporary income tax has spurred a rebound.
“That allowed us to fulfill our promises. More police officers more firefighters but more importantly to create funding to reinvest in ourselves, to lower our costs and improve our services."
Today, there’s a modest $3 million dollar surplus. Couple that with reserve savings and the temporary income tax and Sundstrom expects the city’s Transformation fund will grow to $50 million.
“The only way that we will spend money out of that account is for reinvesting in our services to make them more customer-focused and more efficient.”
The Transformation plan calls for improving neighborhood parks, pools and playgrounds. Voters approved a millage budgeting $30 million for that. Now, it’s on to improving and sustaining city streets.
Its estimated Grand Rapids streets are in need of $160 million worth of repairs. A 15 year plan says the city will need about $23 million annually to catch up. With the state providing only enough cash to cover potholes and snowplowing, Sundstrom reemphasizes the need to grow the transformation fund.
Thursday Kent County Health Department scores high national honor Grand Rapids MI September 18, 2014 | WGVU After more than two years of preparation, the Kent County Health Department has been recognized by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) for its effectiveness, efficiency and outreach. State, local initiatives target skilled labor demand September 18, 2014 | WGVU Talking points of two Grand Rapids-area events focused on college and skilled trade investments. ListenDownload Rep. Amash opposes U.S. arming Syrain rebels to fight ISIS September 18, 2014 | WGVU President Barack Obama's request for congressional backing to train and arm rebels battling Islamic State militants in Syria is halfway home after easy approval by the GOP-controlled House Wednesday. In West Michigan, two Republican U.S. Representatives voted against the resolution; Congressman Bill Huizenga of Zeeland and Justin Amash of Cascade Township. WGVU spoke with Representative Amash about his concerns arming Syrian Rebels. ListenDownload U.S. Rep. Huizenga opposes U.S. arming Syrain Rebels to fight ISIS September 18, 2014 | WGVU President Barack Obama's request for congressional backing to train and arm rebels battling Islamic State militants in Syria is halfway home after easy approval by the GOP-controlled House Wednesday. In West Michigan, two Republican U.S. Representatives voted against the resolution; Congressman Justin Amash of Cascade Township and Bill Huizenga of Zeeland and. WGVU spoke with Representative Huizenga about his concerns arming Syrian Rebels. ListenDownload Authorities: 5th grader with gun had list of names Kingsley MI September 18, 2014 | AP Authorities say a fifth-grade boy found with a loaded pistol at a middle school in Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula had created a list of classmates' names. Michigan teen admits arson over arranged marriage Lansing MI September 18, 2014 | AP A Michigan teenager has admitted she set a fire in her house while her parents were sleeping because she didn't want to get engaged in an arranged marriage. Grand Rapids university gets $1 million stained glass Grand Rapids MI September 18, 2014 | AP A Christian university in Grand Rapids has hired a Danish artist to construct four stained glass windows valued at $1 million for its new chapel.
Moves urged to target Michigan car insurance fraud Lansing MI September 18, 2014 | AP A task force established by Secretary of State Ruth Johnson is recommending proposals to crack down on auto insurance fraud. Governor seeks federal aid in flooding recovery Lansing MI September 18, 2014 | AP Michigan is seeking a help from Washington for residents and businesses affected by last month's severe flooding. Census figures show Michigan incomes rise in 2013 September 18, 2014 | AP The U.S. Census Bureau says household incomes in Michigan rose 1.7 percent in 2013 after years of decline. Work near on Indiana berm to block Asian carp September 18, 2014 | AP Work could start this fall on building a nearly 2 mile-long earthen berm through a northeastern Indiana marsh considered a possible pathway for Asian carp to reach the Great Lakes. Supreme Court suspends Detroit judge Sanders Detroit MI September 18, 2014 | AP A Detroit judge has been suspended without pay by the Michigan Supreme Court.
Michigan, Stanford get $10M for election studies Ann Arbor MI September 18, 2014 | AP The National Science Foundation has awarded more than $10 million to researchers at the University of Michigan and Stanford University to conduct a series of surveys on political participation and vote choice in the 2016 presidential election. Hearses to parade through Hell (Michigan) Hell MI September 18, 2014 | AP Dozens of Michigan hearse enthusiasts will show off their casket-carrying cars during a parade through Hell. Ex-Gov. Milliken backs Democrat Totten for AG September 18, 2014 | AP Former Republican Gov. William Milliken is backing Democrat Mark Totten for state attorney general, saying the Michigan State University associate law professor's experience makes him "highly qualified" for the office. Supreme Court edits opinion in parole dispute Lansing MI September 18, 2014 | AP The Michigan Supreme Court has changed the last sentence of a June opinion, an edit that could lead to the release of a prison inmate in an unusual case about the powers of governors. Democrats call for hold on new charter schools September 18, 2014 | MPRN Democrats at the state Capitol are calling for a moratorium on new charter schools until there are rules that ensure more transparency and accountability.
We have more from Rick Pluta