Tag Archives: Curtis Holt

Being environmentally conscious is just part of the city’s DNA, according to Wyoming mayor

One of the events the City of Wyoming hosts is its annual Community Clean-Up Day.

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma

joanne@wktv.org

 

A recent discussion on whether to sign a pack on its comment to reduce greenhouse emissions has lead officials of the City of Wyoming to the discovery that the city does quite a lot in helping to reduce its carbon footprint and promote sustainability.

 

“It is part of our DNA,” said Mayor Jack Poll at a recent council meeting on June 19. “We are very conscious of everything we do in the City of Wyoming that we are as green as possible and save funds in different areas as best as possible.”

 

One of the items the city does not have is an inventory of all its efforts, which staff and officials are currently working to put together.

 

Many municipalities — locally and across the nation — have been having the discussion on greenhouse gases and carbon footprint on the environment as an outcome of President Donald Trump’s recent decision to pull the United States out of The Paris Agreement or Paris Climate Accord. This is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020.

 

A reaction to this decision has been local residents asking their city and state representatives what those governments are doing to reduce emissions. Poll said several individuals have reached out to the City of Wyoming, asking where the city stands on this issue and have suggested agreements or packs the city could sign.

 

Wyoming residents and students help to make their community better.

“There are agreements out there now that they are asking the City of Wyoming to sign on to and some of those agreements if you go in and sign on, the City of Wyoming could be held financially responsible for not doing some things,” Poll said, adding city officials did not want to lock the city into something that it would not have a lot of control over.

 

However, by looking over such agreements as the Compact of Mayors, which was established in 2014 a year before the Paris Climate Accord was signed, city leaders found that within many of its own projects and various ones in the city, the city has been environmentally aware.

 

“The City of Wyoming has a long history of being environmentally conscious and it starts with things like our bio-solids land application program, our yard waste program that we have for disposal of yard waste and reuse of yard waste rather than disposing of it,” said City Manager Curtis Holt during the June 19 council meeting. “We recently have done things related to LED traffic lights. As many of you know we do a four-day week in the city of Wyoming and part of that was to close our buildings for one day a week and we have estimated in the past that has been a savings of roughly $50,000 a year in energy costs for the city.”

 

The city also has a formal sustainability policy that was developed a couple of years ago that the council takes into consideration on every resolution it adopts, using it as guidance related to the economic, social and environmental impacts of that particular issue that they are dealing with, Holt said. City officials also have seen a lot of LEED certification of buildings within the City of Wyoming.

 

“I am really very proud to live in a city that we do a lot of those things without out a formal agreement in place telling us to,” said Second Ward Council Member Marissa Postler. Postler said she would proposed the city make a compact with itself to keep track of what the city is doing, which is what she liked most about the Compact of Mayors was keeping track and being accountable.

 

The Compact of Mayors has four components to it, a city would have to register its commitment; take inventory on its current impact on climate change; create a reduction, targets and establish a system of measures; and establish an action plan within the city planning for how the city will make a commitment to reduce its greenhouse emissions and adapt to climate change.

 

Holt said he believes the City of Wyoming would do very well achieving the goals of something like the Compact of Mayors, however; there would be some costs involved in doing so.

 

None of the council members were in full support of spending dollars and some raised concerns about spending too much staff time on building the report, however; Poll said he believed it would not take that much time and would mostly those involve those who are handling various projects to put together an inventory of what the city is currently working on and what it has accomplished.

 

The Wyoming City Council July 3 meeting has been cancelled and the next city council meeting is July 17 at 7 p.m. at Southlawn Park, 4125 Jefferson Ave. SE.

City of Wyoming names new assistant city manager

Megan Sall

A familiar face has returned to the City of Wyoming this month as Megan Sall stepped into the role of assistant city manager.

 

In her new role, Sall will serve as the city manager’s principal representative in various administrative affairs with an emphasis on economic development and downtown development. She will also serve as communication director and will be responsible for managing the City’’s website, social media platforms and media inquiries. She will also be responsible for directing and monitoring city projects, acting as liaison between the city manager and department heads, community groups, boards and designated government agencies.

 

““We are excited to have Megan back at the City in this new and expanded role,”” said Wyoming City Manger Curtis Holt. ““She brings a passion for municipal work, community engagement and the City of Wyoming, along with a strong understanding of who we are.

 

“Megan’’s past work with us, along with the expertise and skills she has developed in the interim, will allow her to be a tremendous asset to our continued growth and development.””

 

Sall comes to the city with experience in economic development and governance in both local and national organizations. She began her career as assistant to the city manager in Wyoming before moving on to work as downtown development authority director and community services coordinator.

 

Sall then took the role of campaign coordinator and legislative aide for regional political and governing figures and went on to become program manager at International City/County Management Association in Washington, D.C. Returning to Grand Rapids, Sall worked as business development manager for The Right Place and then project and engagement manager at CQL Incorporated.

 

Sall received her bachelor’’s degree in international relations and her master’s in public administration from Grand Valley State University.

 

Sall is an active community member, serving on the board of Grand Valley State University. She also mentors at the Cook Leadership Academy at Grand Valley State University and has worked on the planning committee for the Great Lakes Software Excellence Conference and as a cabinet member of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Gateway Transformation Campaign.

 

To learn more about Wyoming, visit the City website at www.wyomingmi.gov. Follow the City on Twitter @WyomingCityHall and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CityofWyoming.

Kent County gets ‘Smart911’ with the goal of improving emergency response

Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma, Grand Rapids Central Dispatch Communications Manager Karen Chadwick, Kent County Dispatch Authority Chair and Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt, Kent County Sheriff Department Emergency Communications Center Manager Matt Groesser, and RAVE Customer Success Manager Kevin Hatline.

 

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma

joanne@wktv.org

 

“Where is the emergency?” has become the first question area 911 operators ask as more and more emergency calls come from cellphone users.

 

This is because within a minute the call is answered the cellphone will relay a location back which can be anywhere from where you are actually standing to a mile or more away, said Kent County Sheriff Department Emergency Communications Center Manager Matt Groesser.

 

“Often the case is the person calling is in a very intense, stressful, panicky situation and being able to relay details such as location can be difficult,” said Karen Chadwick, communications manager for Grand Rapids Central Dispatch.

 

Various local law enforcement at today’s press conference for Smart911.

Today, at the Kent County Sheriff’s Department, the Kent County Dispatch Authority — chaired by Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt — announced that it would be adapting the Smart911 program where individuals can create an online safety profile for their household. When a citizen makes a call that profile will automatically display the citizen’s Safety Profile to the 911 call taker.

 

“This profile provides key details about you and your family to those taking our 911 calls during an emergency,” said Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma during the press conference that representatives from various law enforcement agencies throughout Kent County including the Kentwood Police Department and the Wyoming Department of Public Safety attended. “These things might include physical descriptions of your house, your family members. It might include the type of vehicles you drive. It also might include special medical conditions that you or your family might have.”

 

Kentwood Police Chief Thomas Hillen (far left) at the Smart911 press conference.

Other details residents may provide are the pets in the home, the layout of the home and shut off for gas and electricity. It is the type of information that various emergency responders might need, Stelma said.

 

Area residents should go to Smart911.com, click the “Sign Up Today” button and proceed to fill out the information. Sign up is free, private and secure with 911 call takers and responders only able to see the information when a call is made. Once the call is complete, the information disappears from the call taker’s and/or responder’s screen.

 

Powered by RAVE Mobile Safety, Smart911 is currently available in 40 states and more than 1,500 municipalities. Last November, Lt. Governor Brian Calley and other Michigan government officials announced a statewide initiative to make Smart911 available to all residents. While free to residents to sign up, the cost to Kent County for the service is around $40,000 which is being paid for by a grant for the first year.

 

Holt said he sees the City of Wyoming doing similar promotions as the state on its Facebook page, website and through other media. Officers throughout the county will have materials available to distribute with the goal of encouraging residents to sign up. Wyoming Mayor Jack Poll said he already is planning to include Smart911 information that he provides to residents, especially older citizens.

 

“It’s a good idea,” said Kentwood Police Chief Thomas Hillen. “Having that type of information such as a pinpoint of location is quite a big help in responding to an emergency.”

 

“The additional information provided in a Smart911 safety profile can save critical minutes in an emergency and help responders offer better services,” Holt said. “All information is optional and each citizen has the ability to choose what they would like to include.”

 

Multiple phones can be connected to one address as well as a single phone line can have both home and work addresses assigned to it. Also, the program works with all types of phones from traditional land lines, VOIP, cable and mobile.

 

For more information about the program or to enroll, visit Smart911.com.

City goals unchanged as Wyoming Site36 project gains new partner

The mostly empty Site36 industrial area off 36th Street SW in Wyoming, from the marketing material of Franklin Partners. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris

ken@wktv.org

 

Late last year, the City of Wyoming signed an agreement with Franklin Partners, based in the Chicago area but with an office in Grand Rapids, to ramp-up redevelopment of an abandoned General Motors metal stamping plant, the Site36 industrial area off 36th Street SW just east of Highway 131.

 

One of the possible layouts of Site36 site off 36th Street SW in Wyoming, from the marketing material of Franklin Partners. (Supplied)

While the company is pushing forward with a marketing campaign, including drawings depicting multiple possible industrial uses and building layouts for possible sales or lease of portions of the about 92-acre property, Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt says the city’s goals have not changed — they want the land redeveloped into industrial uses to take advantage of already in-place infrastructure.

 

The city also continues to be motivated to work with businesses looking at the site, including tax incentives and other actions.

 

Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt. (WKTV

“We are not looking for leasing options; we are looking for sales,” Holt said this week. “That doesn’t mean the Franklin Partners will not offer that as an option with them holding ownership of a particular site. The purpose of the marketing material is more about showing people what is possible and opening potential owners eyes to ideas that they may not have considered.”

 

Also according to Franklin Partners marketing materials, “The City of Wyoming is motivated to attract new jobs and can offer significant state and local tax incentives to attract large users to the site. … The City has also indicated that it is willing to provide an industrial facilities tax abatement (IFT) for future industrial development. This allows for a nearly 50% abatement of future property taxes on new buildings for up to twelve (12) years. The existence of both a brownfield plan and the City’s expressed willingness to work with future owners/tenants on these and other incentives sets this site apart from others.”

 

Holt says the incentives are also nothing new, as far as the city’s efforts to redevelop the site.

 

“This city has a track record of being very supportive of our business community,” Holt said. “We all have maintained the same principles about Site 36 from the very beginning. Our main goal is jobs, specifically quality jobs available to our residents. With jobs, other indirect benefits will be realized by the city.”

 

The site, with about 80 acres of  “contiguous, shovel ready, manufacturing infrastructure,” according to Franklin Partners, is between Clay and Buchanan avenues south of 36th. According to multiple sources, it was purchased by the city’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority in 2010, after GM closed the plant in 2006 ending nearly 70 years of operation.

 

According to Holt, the City Council has had no additional discussion with Franklin Partners “since the agreement was executed to work with them as the developer of the site,” but “I know that Franklin Partners is continuing to work on marketing, site preparation and generating potential contacts as they begin to market the site.”

 

Franklin reportedly plans to remove a pedestrian bridge over 36th Street, built to connect the GM plant to a parking lot north of 36th Street, as well as to clean up the site after years of accumulated undergrowth and debris.

 

One of the possible layouts of Site36 site off 36th Street SW in Wyoming, from the marketing material of Franklin Partners. (Supplied)

According to Franklin Partners marketing materials, the site — in addition to its access to US-131 and the Grand Elk Railroad yard — has its own Consumers Energy sub-station with up to 41 megawatt of dedicated power at T-1 rates, and can accommodate new facilities from 100,000 square feet up to 1,000,000 square feet. High-pressure natural gas and municipal water and sewer are also available on-site.

 

The city had been working with local entries The Right Place and NAI Wisinski, but, after being on the market for about four years, leaders expect that bringing Franklin Partners into the mix will get the effort moving once again.

 

“Franklin Partners’ history and reputation in West Michigan are very good,” Holt said. “We have worked with Franklin Partners on several projects and found them to be professional, knowledgeable and well connected. They have experience working with us and the projects we have worked together on have been extremely successful. We believe that relationship will assist us in redevelopment of the site.”

 

Metro Health, U-M affiliation brings more choice to West Michigan

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma

joanne@wktv.org

 

When Metro Health moved to Wyoming about nine years ago, it was tasked with not being just a boutique hospital in a suburban community, but a catalysis to bring quality care to not only its immediate community of Wyoming but the West Michigan region. With Metro Health’s affiliation with the University of Michigan Health System, Metro Health President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Faas believes the hospital has achieved that.

 

Metro Health President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Faas

“We were faced with trying to clinically integrate and grow while at the same time maintain services and infrastructure that we have,” Faas said during a recent interview about the new affiliation between Metro Health and U-M. “There is having more importance to the community, more market share, more money and new buildings and as these issues kept circling we knew that we needed to get a lot bigger and more significant for some of these things to happen.”

 

To achieve this, according to Faas, Metro Health started exploring the possibility of a partnership with another institution. Metro Health officials first went to non-profit U-M as the hospital had formed a relationship with U-M providing radiation oncology. However, Metro Health ended up courting a few other possibilities including the for-profit Tennessee-based Community Health Systems. The deal with Community Health Systems did not happen and Metro Health officials began to look at other possibilities.

 

“We knew one day it could happen,” Faas said of Metro Health’s affiliation with U-M. “We had favored that one the most because we felt it was the best match. Good things came to fruition for all the right reasons.”

 

In fact the affiliation between U-M and Metro Health is not that unusual especially as hospital officials deal with the many challenges in health care from reform efforts to becoming more clinically integrated. Just recently, Grinnell Regional Medical Center in Toledo announced negotiations with UnityPoint Health Des Moines and University of Iowa Health Care. Several hospitals in the Upper Peninsula have similar partnerships.

 

While Wyoming City officials have not had any meetings with Metro Health or U-M on the affiliation, City Manager Curtis Holt said he sees it being a great thing for the community, especially since health care is one of the fastest growing industries.

 

“I have said ever since Metro Health came to Wyoming that it is a great addition to the City of Wyoming,” Holt said. “They do a great job. I think they are beneficial to our community and to our residents which is the most important thing.”

 

Holt said he is cautious over the dollar value that the new affiliation will bring to the city since it is a non-profit venture and collection from this type of development is limited. The city could benefit from the spin off ventures such as restaurants, stores, commercial businesses and other small industries that develop from the affiliation, he said, adding that he is looking forward to meeting with Metro Health officials in the coming weeks to discuss Metro Health/U-M’s plans for the future.

 

“I believe that [Metro Health] has been so focused on getting this affiliation in place, and now that it is, they can start to focus on how they are going to make a difference in the community,” Holt said.

 

Which is exactly correct according to Faas. Now that the affiliation is in place, plans will begin to move forward on various projects which will include the building up of the Metro Health Village. However, the biggest change area residents will see is that for the first time in awhile, there will be a real choice in health care services in West Michigan, Faas said.

 

“U-M has been providing health care to all the residents of Michigan for more than a century,” Faas said. “Now with this relationship with Metro Health, U-M health care is more accessible, more convenient, and less expensive then everyone driving to Ann Arbor.”

After city council, Joanne Voorhees plans to ‘stay involved’

Joanne Voorhees expressed her gratitude to the public for allowing her to serve on the Wyoming City Council for nine years. (WKTV)
Joanne Voorhees expressed her gratitude to the public Monday for allowing her to serve on the Wyoming City Council for nine years. (WKTV)

By K.D. Norris

ken@wktv.org

 

Joanne Voorhees has left the Wyoming City Council, having declined to run again for the 3rd Ward seat after nearly a decade of council service and decades of serving the community her and husband Harold call home. But don’t expect her to spend all her time with her grandkids and great-grand kids.

 

“As the mayor closes every session, he asks the citizens to stay informed and stay involved, so I plan to stay informed and stay involved,” Voorhees said Monday, Nov. 21, as she officially stepped off the council and the city welcomed two new members prior to its regular meeting.

 

“But I also have three children, 19 grandchildren and I have 14 great-grandchildren,” she said. “So I am going to spend time with family, but I will always be available and will do some volunteer work, hopefully, here in the city of Wyoming.”

To see a video, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnwpzjSYLus

At the Monday meeting, the council recognized Voorhees as well as long-time member Richard Pastoor for their service to the council and the city. The city also swore in returning member-at-larg councilman Dan Burrill, who ran unopposed in the Nov. 8 election for his second four-year term, and new council members Marissa Postler, elected to the city’s 2nd Ward seat, and Robert Postema, elected to the 3rd Ward seat vacated by Voorhees.

 

Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt had nothing but praise for Joanne Voorhees' service to the city.
Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt had nothing but praise for Joanne Voorhees’ service to the city.

“Rich and Joanne have been longtime fixtures in our community,” said Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt. “They are known throughout the community for their good works in the community, whether it is working in the school districts, whether it is working as a state representative.

 

“Rich owned a radio station in our community and has that radio voice we all know. They are people who have dedicated their lives to our community and that dedication followed through to the city council, where they were always very supportive of the city and city projects. They were always dedicated to making our city better.”

 

Voorhees’ service includes much more than just a city council member, however. She previously served in the Michigan House of Representatives and joined the Michigan Republican Party leadership committee in 2011, to name just two high-profile positions.

 

“At one time I served as the chair of the Kent County GOP, before that I served six years as a state legislator, my husband was on there for six years and because of term limits I had the opportunity to run,” she said. “It was a natural fit for me, to not only serve the community as a state representative but then to serve the people here, in the city council room.

 

“The neat part about Harold and I is that he also served as mayor of the City of Wyoming. At that time, I could be called first lady, and I loved that position. … I have had very unique and very blessed opportunities.”

 

As you watched her talk to people before the ceremony Monday, at a reception in her’s and Pastoor’s honor, you could there was a sense of pride from Voorhees for being able to serve the city and the 3rd Ward.

 

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve (the Wyoming community), it was a golden opportunity for me to be able to serve in this capacity,” she said. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my nine years. We, as a council, have worked together for nine years … We blended. We understood each other. We knew were we were coming from. We did not always agree, but we would disagree very agreeably.

 

“It has been a tremendous experience, I just can’t say enough about what a blessing it is to have served the residents of Wyoming, particularly the 3rd Ward, who I really represent. I have gone door-to-door, so many times. I know many of them personally. I know their feelings. I truly feel like I’ve been able to represent them to the city more than maybe the city to them.”

 

Holt may have summed up the feelings of many attending the ceremony, saying:

 

“The time she has given to our citizens is significant and I am sure at the expense of her own personal priorities in some cases. … You can’t help but admire that dedication and the time she has given to serve the citizens of the City of Wyoming.”

 

With passage of 911 surcharge, county gets ready to build new dispatch system

Undersheriff Michele LaJoy-Young as he discusses the 9-1-1 dispatch surcharge. Photo now.wktv.org.
Undersheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young as she discusses the 9-1-1 dispatch surcharge. Photo now.wktv.org.

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma

joanne@wktv.now.org

 

Now that voters have overwhelmingly approved the surcharge increase for the 9-1-1 Public Safety Dispatch, supporters and the Kent County Sheriff Department really have their work cut out for them.

 

“It’s a big project with a lot of work,” said Undersheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young.

 

Last night, Kent County voters approved the 70-cent increase to the current Kent County surcharge of 45 cents in a three-to-one margin with 205,112 in favor to 74,726 opposed. The 70-cent increase is on top of the existing 45-cent surcharge and is for 20 years. Starting in July 2017, a phone user will pay $1.15 surcharge to Kent County or about $13.80 per year with $8.40 per year going toward the 9-1-1 dispatch.

 

About half the money raised will go toward the public safety dispatch and a portion will be used to cover costs associated with countywide fire dispatch services.

 

In preparation of the surcharge possibly passing, LaJoye-Young said the county has been working on a contract with plans to join the Michigan Public Safety Communications System.

 

Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma
Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma

“This is more than a quick fix. This is an investment in our future, in the safety of our first responders, and the ability to respond quickly and efficiently to residents who call 9-1-1,” Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma said. “We can now provide communications towers and new radio equipment that will place all Kent County dispatchers and first responders on the Michigan Public Safety Communications System. This will improve our ability to communicate with most of the state’s 9-1-1 call-taking centers, including Michigan State Police, and Ottawa, Allegan, Ionia and Newaygo counties.”

 

The goal is to have the contract in place by the end of year, LaJoye-Young said, adding the next phase is the project management, which has a two-year window. This is where the real work begins as the county will need to change its frequency, requiring the purchase of communications towers and 800 MHz equipment. There will be some build-out for the power which will include reconstruction and construction of towers depending on whether those towers can hold the new equipment, LaJoye-Young said, adding that it is estimated the entire dispatch project should be completed in three years.

 

Besides the increase in the surcharge, residents probably will not feel much of an impact on police/fire services or even phone service.

 

“If they happen to live near a tower, they might see the outward signs of construction but that will be pretty low impact,” LaJoye-Young said. “Ideally, this will be seamless with residents experiencing no drop in service. They won’t realize a change but just the continuity of communication and improved communication for public safety that should increase our efficiency.”

 

Currently Kent County 9-1-1 dispatch operates on eight different radio systems, which hampers public safety efforts in some situations because emergency responders cannot communicate directly – even if they are working on the same incident. With the new technology, LaJoye-Young said officers involved in a specific situation, such as a traffic accident, or an event like Metro Cruise, will have direct communication abilities while regular calls are maintained on dedicated channels.

 

“I am delighted to see voters approve the dispatch,” said 12th District Kent County Commissioner Harold Mast, who represents the western portion Kentwood and the eastern portion of Wyoming. “This will definitely help in improving the way law enforcement communicates.”

 

“Voters in Wyoming and throughout Kent County overwhelmingly demonstrated their supported of the 911 dispatch public safety surcharge,” said Curtis Holt, director of the Kent County Dispatch Authority and Wyoming City Manager. “The increased surcharge will enhance public safety with an upgrade in technology, provide a sustainable countywide fire dispatch funding source and improve communication efficiency to make Wyoming and all of Kent County safer.”

 

The surcharge is a “user-based” fee directly charging devices that use 9-1-1 service. For every phone device a Kent County resident has — cell phone, air card, home internet with voice IP — the surcharge will be applied. LaJoye-Young recommends that residents look at their phone bill for the current Kent County surcharge of 45 cents to determine what their individual cost will be.

No local millage increase with Wyoming’s 2017 budget

cityhallBy Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
joanne@wktv.org

 

Through planning and controlling costs over the past several years, the City of Wyoming had good news with its 2017 budget: the city is recovering from the economic downturn the state experienced about six years ago.

 

The City of Wyoming, like many Michigan municipalities, faced challenging times when the housing market decline that caused the city’s taxable value to drop. Coupled with the fact that the State of Michigan has diverted state money away from Michigan municipalities since 2002 – about a $2 million lost annually for the City of Wyoming – city officials have worked to provide the same level of services to its residents with less income.

 

And the city has succeed in doing just that, according to City Manager Curtis Holt. The 2017 budget is about $105.4 million, a 4.7 percent increase over last year with no scheduled increases in the local millage and sewer and water rates. In fact, the city’s millage will remain the same as it has been for the past two years at 11.9073 mills.

 

“Compared to similar cities we maintain a very low cost per capita for the services we provide,” City Manager Curtis Holt said. “The leaning of the organization hasn’t stopped service delivery, though. We’re committed to investing in technology and training to continue to provide better service and greater value while ensuring the safety of residents and city employees. This year’s budget reflects our work to maximize every tax dollar we receive.”  

 

In fact, staffing levels have decreased from 2006’s 402 to 345.5, but this does include the addition of five and half new positions to the city including a part-time firefighter program introduced in 2016, which continues to provide significant overtime cost savings, while improving response times and firefighter coverage.

 

Other positive factors impacting the city’s 2017 budget include the state’s 17 percent increase in road funding which will allow the city to spend down some of its reserves in its street funds; the relocation of the Wyoming’s public safety dispatch operations and the refinancing of two water bonds and the anticipated payoff of one water bond.

 

Residents will see an increase in property tax of about 1.97 percent, which is actually less than the 5.6 percent assessed value. The reason for this is that in 1994, Michigan voters approved Proposal A, which is designed to limit the growth in property taxes by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) until ownership in the property is transferred. The CPI is a statistic calculated by the State of Michigan that tracks the cost of living in Michigan.

 

Most property taxes are based on a capped value multiplied by the CPI or 5 percent, whichever is lower which has crimped how quickly Michigan municipalities such as Wyoming can recoup from when property values dropped in 2009. In fact, even with the slight property tax increase, making the city’s taxable value around $2.35 billion, the city’s overall taxable value is still about $338 million below the highs of 2009, when the housing market crashed. This represents a lost of about $1.6 million in revenues to the city, said Deputy Finance Director Rosa Ooms as she presented the council the 2017 budget at a meeting last month.

 

The lost of taxable value also has hit Wyoming’s Downtown Development Authority, whose budget was also approved by the council in May. While the council has adjusted the amount the DDA can capture, the current funding has limited what the authority has been able to do, Holt said.

 

Despite the fact that the city probably will not see its taxable values return to the levels of 2009 for about another 14 years, Wyoming residents will see several improvement projects taking place in the upcoming year such as work at several of the city parks including Palmer, Kelloggsville, Lemery and Pinery along with improvements at the Wyoming Senior Center, the reconstruction and widening of 56th Street from Ivanrest Avenue to Byron Center Avenue and upgrades to the Kent District Library Wyoming branch.

 

Mayor Jack Poll cited the City’s tradition of maintaining its fiscal stability and commended Holt for his work and commitment to balancing the budget. “Our city runs extremely efficiently thanks to the good work done by the city manager and our city employees,” Poll said. “They serve our community admirably while working to maintain a healthy and sustainable financial position.”  

 

For further information, call the City of Wyoming at 530-7272 or click here.

Wyoming Welcomes Kendall Electric

Former GM Employee Parking Lot will See Changes

by Terri Yochum

Former GM employee parking lot sits waiting to be transformed.
Former GM employee parking lot sits waiting to be transformed.

After four years of vacancy, the former General Motors property on Clay Avenue in Wyoming claims its first new resident: J.O. Galloup and Smith Instruments, subsidiaries of Kendall Electric. The combined Kendall Electric businesses will occupy one state of the art facility on a seven acre parcel of the old GM plant, now referred to as Site 36.

Martin Ranly, Kendall Electric president and chief executive officer was quoted in the Southwest Advance as saying, “We are extremely excited to continue investing in the West Michigan business market by relocating our J.O. Galloup operations to Wyoming.” He continued to say that he hopes the many customers they have here will see this move as an investment in the future of all companies involved.

According to Ranly, the location fits perfectly with the needs of the business expansion because of its infrastructure and accessibility. In addition to housing 95 J.O. employees, the 100,000-square-foot facility will be eligible for a 12 year tax exemption and brownfield redevelopment dollars of up to $250,000.

J.O. Galloup is a premier distributor of pipe, valves, fittings and associated materials. Their mission, according to a company spokesperson, is to be the first choice as an employer, as a supplier, and as a partner to their vendors. Smith Instruments, also a subsidiary of Kendall Electric, is a leading representative of industrial and automation products. Spokespeople from both companies believe this venture will be a wise union.

Meanwhile Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt says that the city is committed to growing companies locally through a system of ‘Economic Gardening.’ “This is a process by which big employers help smaller, existing businesses to grow. We want to see our local businesses do well.”

According to Holt, Economic Gardening helps promote the growth of existing local business in three ways:

First, by providing critical information needed by businesses to survive and thrive;  second, by developing and cultivating an infrastructure that goes beyond the basic physical infrastructure and includes quality of life, a culture that embraces growth and change, and access to intellectual resources, including qualified and talented employees; and third, by developing connections between businesses and the people and organizations that can help take them to the next level such as business associations, universities, roundtable groups, service providers and more.

“If your local business is growing, we can help you and want to work with you,” Holt said.

The City of Wyoming, together with development companies Lornax Stern and The Right Place, are working to redevelop and market the Site 36 property. “We are expecting to announce the inclusion of one more company very soon,” added Holt.

The vast majority of business owners in the surrounding area are excited about the Kendall project because the new addition will fill in some of the existing emptiness. “We’re pleased to see development picking up in the Wyoming area,” Roger Morgenstein, senior public information director for Consumers Energy said. “We are eagerly awaiting this first arrival.”