Tag Archives: Mayor Jack Poll

Wyoming grants deferral on revocation of abatement for Grand Rapids Plastics

Grand Rapids Plastics, 4220 Roger B. Chaffee Blvd. SW., Wyoming, recently announced it was laying off 85 employees.
Grand Rapids Plastics, 4220 Roger B. Chaffee Blvd. SW., Wyoming, closed in April after Fiat Chrysler pulled its contracts.

Joanne Baiey-Boorsma
joanne@wktv.org

 

A Wyoming business which was forced to close after Fiat Chrysler pulled its contract will have until Aug. 15 before the city will revoke its existing tax abatements.

 

Grand Rapids Plastic, with a home address of 4220 Roger B. Chaffee in Wyoming, closed its doors April 15. The decision came after Fiat Chrysler sent notice it would end its contracts with the company. Those contracts made up more than 50 percent of the company’s business. Chemical Bank took over the company’s buildings, equipment and other assets and is currently seeking a buyer.

 

“[Chemcial] Bank has control and is actively seeking a buyer for the business and is hoping that any buyer will qualify for the tax abatements that the city has for the business and property,” said Tim Hillegonds, from Warner, Norcess and Judd, the law firm representing Chemical Bank. The bank, Hillegonds said, believes in the economic development of the City of Wyoming, “which is why it is seeking a buyer that will actually reopen the business.”

 

By having the existing abatements revoked, both representatives of Chemical Bank and the former owners of Grand Rapids Plastics felt that it could chill any potential sale, Hillegonds said.

 

Grand Rapids Plastics had three abatements. One that was amended in 2007 for $1.2 million for personal property and another one that was for $1 million for personal property in 2008. Both of these were for 12 years. There also is a full abatement for $615,931 granted in 2011 for 10 years for personal property accusation. The total taxes owed to the city is about $212,000, $180,00 is the abatement taxes and around $33,000 is the personal property taxes for 2016.

 

Tax abatements have become a common tool for cities to attract and maintain businesses. Through a tax abatement, taxes for an industry can be forgiven or deferred depending what the business is requesting. Most businesses seek abatements for new plants, expanding existing plants, renovating aging plants or adding new machinery and equipment. The maximum length for an abatement is 12 years. There are specific guidelines for the business outlined in the abatement that can include the addition of employees and staying within the city for the length of the abatement.

 

City Manager Curtis Holt said the city, like many other municipalities, began to put clawback agreements in the abatements in the mid-2000s. A clawback allows the city to collect on taxes deferred from an abatement if a business did not meet what was outlined in the abatement agreement.

 

A municipality could forgive an abatement if there was an unforeseen circumstance which Hillegonds said they felt Fiat Chrysler pulling its contacts fit that criteria. However; Sandra Hamilton, from the law firm Clark Hill and who has worked with the city’s treasurer’s office and the state treasurer’s office on tax collection issues, said that an unforeseen circumstance is not necessarily a financial crisis but is often associated to something like a fire or natural disaster.

 

Hamilton said that as of the May council meeting, where the abatements were considered, there had been no indication or written interest in the business. She said the state treasurer’s office already has filed jeopardy assessments against the company for taxes. Her office recommended that the city revoke the current abatements and then if a new business does take over the facility, grant new abatements based on that business’s needs and requirements.

 

Holt said the city has not been contacted by anyone about the property. He also noted that a business has up to six months after starting to seek an abatement with the process taking a minimum of 45 days. Holt noted that the buildings are at a premium and the city has been quite liberal in working with businesses on abatements.

 

“The opportunity for a buyer here I think is rather high, but what they will do, I can’t tell you,” Holt said.

 

Mayor Jack Poll said the new business has to match the blueprint exactly to Grand Rapids Plastics.  He added that the 16 years he has been on the council, the city has never turned down a business for an abatement once all the numbers came in.

 

After determining that that there was no time frame required for the city to revoke the abatement, several of council members expressed that they were not ready to vote on the matter and were willing to give Chemical Bank the 90 days. The motion to revoke the abatements was deferred until Aug. 15 with the city maintaining access to the buildings to check that the equipment remains in the facility.

 

Larry DeHaan from Chemical Bank said the bank is only asking for the 90 days. If a buyer is not found within that time, DeHaan acknowledged the bank realizes it would be in the same situation that it is now. If a buyer is not found, the bank probably will put the equipment up for auction and sell the buildings.

Ride Along with Mayor Jack Poll

Wyoming Mayor Jack Poll is looking to have his first bike cruise through Wyoming, and you’re invited!

 

“The Mayor does a neighborhood walk every summer in the community, so it’s the same concept, just with bikes.” said Jennifer Stowell, administrative assistant to the city manger.

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The two-mile bike ride starts at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 16, from the Women at Risk parking lot, 27900 44th St. SW and concludes at 7:30 p.m. at Monelli’s Italian Grill and Sports Bar, 5675 Byron Center Ave. SW. After the ride, all participants are invited to join Mayor Poll for food, drinks, and mingling with other Wyoming residents.

 

“It will be a leisure bike ride through the neighborhood. The mayor will be stopping throughout the ride, periodically, to talk and greet people,” said Stowell.

 

Participants are encouraged to bring their own bikes and protection, such as helmets, as there will be no bikes available for rent or borrowing. During the bike ride, there will be limited t-shirts and bike lights given out to those who attend. You must have a bike In order to receive a bike light.

 

“If it is a successful turnout, it will most likely become an annual event added to the community walks that happen yearly in the community,” Stowell said.

 

For more information on the bike ride with Mayor Jack Poll event, visit http://wyomingmi.gov/ or call the City of Wyoming’s City Hall at 616-530-7226.

Development, public services, and fiscal responsibility prominent at Wyoming State of the City

Mayor Poll address Wyoming during the annual State of the City
Mayor Poll address Wyoming during the annual State of the City

By: Mike DeWitt

 

While national news outlets are pumping out stories of local governments and authorities gone awry – think Flint water crisis and numerous police scandals – the City of Wyoming is a beacon of shining light in government balance and transparency.

 

On Monday, January 18th, Wyoming Mayor Jack Poll delivered the annual State of the City address in front of the Wyoming City Council and residence in attendance. Mayor Poll’s message shed light on Wyoming’s growing business and building development, productive and advancing city services, and the government’s consistent fiscal responsibility.

 

“We wish to keep our city financially strong while maintaining the valued services we provide,” said Mayor Poll during the address. “We must continue to build our foundation for the future.”

 

Back in 2010, Wyoming’s largest taxpayer, the JM Stamping Plant, left and taxable values of homes dropped. Now in 2016, the taxable home values have leveled off and improved. In fact, home tax values went up by 5 percent from the beginning to the end of the year. That trend is expected to continue in 2016 and keep improving until 2025 when tax dollars will reach the levels they were at back in 2008.

 

“Development in the city was strong in 2015,” added Mayor Poll. “Construction values totaled more than 44 million dollars. A 7% increase over the previous year.”

 

Part of that was due to three businesses – Zeeland Lumber and Supply, the Habitat for Humanity Restore, and the Well Mannered Dog Center – reopening their doors after taking damage from the tornado that hit Ideal Park in 2014.

 

Not only is Wyoming seeing development in the private sector, but the city is constantly looking to improve its services to better serve the residents of Wyoming.

 

Last year, all four of Wyoming’s fire stations were ready and open during peak time. This year, the city is expecting to reach their goal of 80 firefighters ready for emergency in the city. Wyoming is also equipped for a potential ice storm in the winter or a swift flood come spring.

Firetruck Wyoming
Quick Response Vehicle

 

The city utilized two Quick Response Vehicles (QRV) this past year to up the efficiency of city services. QRV’s led to an overall reduction in response time as three fires were quelled by QRV’s before the larger engines arrived. The city is strongly considering adding a third to the fleet in 2016.

 

Police officers consistently visit local businesses, business meetings, and perform off hour business checks to keep communication flowing throughout the community and to keep local business owners safe. Plans for program and high school advisory groups are being set to educate the community on police procedures, gather feedback, and to better understand the issues the Wyoming community faces.

 

On top of improved emergency services and communication, families and businesses in Wyoming continue to benefit from water and sewage rates that are the best in the state. The public works department provides safe drinking water, sanitation, roads and plowing all while operating in a financially responsible way.

 

“Our financial responsibility is perhaps most evident in our successful early payoff of capital debt in 2015,” said Mayor Poll.

 

That eliminated debt includes an early payoff of six physical buildings that are owned by the city. The buildings include the library, city hall, police station, motor pool, and two fire stations.

 

As the City of Wyoming continues to build and grow, the city council insists on staying transparent. Mayor Poll’s hope for 2016 is that more Wyoming citizens look to get involved with city government, Every city council meeting is open to the public, and if you can’t make the meeting, they’re broadcasted live on WKTV and can be reviewed online.

 

“As I have now started my seventh year, it is truly my honor and sincere privilege to serve as the Mayor of the City of Wyoming,” proclaimed Mayor Poll. “My hope and prayer is that this year we all continue to build on that tradition of success.”

Pinery Park Little League on the Right Track

PineryParkBy: Mike DeWitt

Following weeks of speculation about whether the Pinery Park Little League (PPLL) would exist after 60 years of operation, the PPLL and the City of Wyoming agreed on a new contract to keep the league in charge of youth baseball.

Pinery Park Little League was in jeopardy of losing its contract with the City of Wyoming and Pinery Park due to a lack of transparent bookkeeping and the loss of nonprofit 501(c)(3) status.

The League made tremendous progress ironing out those issues over the past two weeks.

“I guess it took some major deadlines in order to have this contract happen,” exclaimed Mayor Jack Poll at the October 5 City Council Meeting. “I think it’s a good agreement. It protects both the park and those involved with the PPLL.”

There is new leadership within the League as almost an entirely new board was voted in during the elections on September 30. Mayor Poll was in attendance and cast his vote for the League leaders.

It is clear the new board wants the new contract and agreement to work. The members are shouldering a large responsibility to meet the requirements of the contract. The new board will have to prepare and show financial statements to the fiduciary handling the league’s financials. The PPLL board will meet on a regular, scheduled basis to stay on top of happenings throughout the league.

One of the main hiccups was the loss of 501(c)(3) status for the League back in 2011. The IRS has received and is reviewing the PPLL’s application to reinstate that status. The League must now wait 60-120 days for an answer from the IRS.

“The Pinery Park Little League knows how to run a league, they’ve been doing it a long time,” said Mayor Poll.

Now the league, the City, the parents, and the players can focus on the most important aspect… PLAY BALL!

Time is Running Out on Pinery Park Little League

By: Mike DeWitt

It’s every little leaguer’s dream, that perfect game-ending situation that runs through a ballplayer’s mind: At the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs, the bases are loaded with your team down a score. Three balls and two strikes, a full count and it’s do or die.

There’s nowhere to hide. It’s just you at the plate. A chance to be the hero.

For Pinery Park Little League (PPLL), the game is winding down and it’s time for the league to step up to the plate so that its contract with the City of Wyoming and Pinery Park isn’t terminated.

After 60 years of organizing youth baseball here in Wyoming, the PPLL is in jeopardy of losing its home.

PineryParkThe problems started back in 2011 when the PPLL lost its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status with the IRS due to a lack of transparent bookkeeping and financial information. Since the loss of 501(c)(3) status, the City of Wyoming has asked the PPLL to take the necessary steps to get the nonprofit title back with the IRS.

Four years later that still has not been accomplished. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for an organization that has proven to be run very inefficiently.

Electrical and maintenance bills haven’t been paid on time. Board meeting dates are flimsy with sometimes only a couple of days’ notice before a meeting. Board election positions are posted with the minimal amount of notice (two weeks) mandated by the league’s bylaws. Umpires are paid in cash out of the concession stand register with no paper trail to follow. And the League has been unable to present their financials at the request of the Wyoming City Council.

“This league is extremely, extremely unorganized,” exclaimed Mayor Jack Poll in a heat of passion and disappointment at the City Council Meeting on September 14. “And, if they can’t have the leadership to run this league on our fields with the requirements that we have, then it’s time to change direction.”

The Wyoming City Council had a very long discussion about what to do with the PPLL and whether or not the contract should be terminated. By the end of the meeting, they decided on a few next steps:

  • The PPLL must turn over all financials, bank statements and loose pieces of paper
  • The PPLL lawyer and the City lawyer will draw up a new contract that has some teeth
  • The new contract will designate the Community Resource Alliance as the fiduciary for the finances of the PPLL
  • The PPLL will form a separate committee to field complaints from league participants

The new contract must be submitted by September 30 so that it can be placed on the October 5 meeting’s agenda. If no agreement is reached, the contract will be terminated on October 5, and the Parks and Rec Department will charter youth baseball.

Optimistic Mayor Poll Enters Second Term

janice_limbaugh“Be involved and be informed!” ~ Mayor Jack Poll

By Janice Limbaugh

 

These words of Mayor Re-elect Jack Poll have been and will continue to be, his signature message to Wyoming residents as he begins his second term in office. The unopposed mayor, who was sworn in on Tuesday evening, plans to continue to build on the progress made over the last several years.

 

The improvements included new streetscape lighting along 28th Street, newly installed water mains and water services, and the initial construction of Silverline stations along Division Avenue.

Wyoming Mayor Jack Poll sworn in for a second term.
Wyoming Mayor Jack Poll sworn in for a second term.

 

“I’m very optimistic,” Poll says. “Our city is continually improving thanks to our proactive leadership and citizen involvement.”

 

According to Mayor Poll, one of the city’s top initiatives is improving the newly formed Public Safety Department. The mayor believes that the city’s efforts for the merger are successful so far, and will continue to create a “hybrid” public safety program not typically seen around the country.

 

“We are going to be a public safety model for other city governments,” he states explaining that the proven financial sustainability is in decreasing administrative costs and crossing over responsibilities and duties of well-versed police and fire professionals.

 

Over the next five years, Mayor Poll expects to see progress on the re-development of 28th Street between Clyde Park and Burlingame known as 28 West, improvements and remodeling to Wyoming Village at Michael and 28th, and the revamping of the Downtown Development Authority.

 

As for concerns for the city, the mayor is quick to point out the aging of the current city council and the absence of younger council members. Six out of the seven current council members, have stated that this will be their last term.

 

“That will be a huge turn over,” says Poll. “We need to find and recruit younger people to get involved and interested in managing the future of this city. We’re making great progress and need to continue the momentum.”

 

For the first time, the city hosted a Citizen’s Public Safety Academy this fall as a means of engaging and encouraging residents to take a behind-the-scenes look at their police and fire services. Over 20 people participated in the program, prompting Mayor Poll to continue the academy again next year.

 

“We would do well as a community if every citizen could attend and learn everything about their city,” he says.