GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan voters will go to the polls Tuesday to decide on local issues, including several bond proposals and a tax extension request in the City of Grand Rapids.
Kent County Director of Elections Sue DeSteiguer told 24 Hour News 8 Monday she has “not had [an election] exactly like we’re having tomorrow.”
In May 2013, when three Kent County school districts had bond proposals on the ballot, voter turnout was a little over 15%. This year, eight school districts have issues on the ballot in Kent County.
DeSteiguer said turnout is higher when school districts have bond issues on the ballot “because they’re going to be doing a lot of campaigning to get their residents to vote.”
“In Rockford, I especially expect to see a lot of turnout. They’ve done a lot of PR,” she said.
She said turnout will be varied across the county depending on where issues will be on the ballot.
“Rockford, Caledonia and East Grand Rapids are asking for bonds to be big dollars, so those pockets may be higher,” she said. “Grand Rapids, with their two [road tax] questions, their voters could turn out higher. We just don’t know.”
There will be 247 precincts active Tuesday, DeSteiguer said. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
24 Hour News 8 will be watching 39 races. Some of the ballot issues we will be highlighting:
In the City of Grand Rapids, two proposals will ask voters to extend the current income tax years to pay for road repairs in exchange for making the city responsible for sidewalk repair costs.
Initially passed in 2010, the city’s income tax was at the time sold as a temporary measure that would fund programs to make city offices more efficient. It is set to run out in 2015.
If the two ballot questions pass Tuesday, the Grand Rapids income tax would not increase. Rather, the current tax would be extended until 2030. City residents would continue to pay $2 for every $1,000 of taxable income. People who work in but live outside of the city would continue to pay $1 for every $1,000 of taxable income.
The proposal to make the city responsible for sidewalk repairs can only pass if the road tax extension passes.
NOTE: One of the precincts for Northview voters is on 3 Mile Rd where there is construction. Despite construction blocking access to the precicnt, they are still open. Voters will have to either dodge construction or go around and come from the south side of the building.
Caledonia Community Schools is asking voters to approve a $41 million measure that would not increase taxes. It would pay for a ninth-grade building next to the high school, as well as installation of secure entrances and other district-wide building improvements. It would also pay for technology purchases.
East Grand Rapids has proposed a $30.905 million bond that would pay for secure entrances at buildings across the district, upgrade technology at all buildings, improve lighting and renovate some classrooms and other buildings.
If approved, the owner of a home with a taxable value of $125,000 would pay an additional $312.50 per year.
Grand Haven Area Public Schools has proposed two bonds: A $36 million measure would not increase taxes and would pay for technology, security and building improvements, as well as bus replacements.
A $9.69 million proposal would increase taxes to pay for district-wide fencing, asbestos removal, improved traffic areas at Grand Haven High School and Lakeshore Middle School, and athletic and arts improvements.
The owner of a home with a taxable value of $100,000 would pay an additional $47 per year under the second proposal.
Rockford Public Schools is asking voters to approve a $76.125 million bond that would keep the current tax rate the same. It would fund school security and technology upgrades, as well as building improvements across the district.
South Haven Public Schools has proposed a $36.75 million bond that would pay to add secure entrances and cameras at all buildings, and fund district-wide technology improvements and building improvements.
If passed, the owner of a home with a $75,000 taxable value would pay an additional $117 per year.
Spring Lake Public Schools has put forth two bond proposals that would increase taxes. The first $49.8 million measure would pay for renovations at most district schools, including major projects at Jeffers and Holmes elementary schools. It would also fund technology upgrades at all schools and bus purchases.
A second $4.47 million proposal would pay for improvements to Grabinski Stadium, new multipurpose turf fields at the high school for soccer and lacrosse, upgrades to existing practice fields, restrooms at the high school tennis courts and additional parking.
If both bonds pass, the owner of a home with a taxable value of $75,000 would pay an additional $50,356 per year.
In November 2013, Spring Lake voters failed a $59.8 million bond by 89 votes.
West Ottawa Public Schools has proposed a $89.95 million measure that would not increase taxes. It would be used to pay for heating and cooling and technology upgrades, as well as renovating school entrances and improving traffic flow at middle and elementary schools.
24 Hour News 8 will be tracking election results as they come in and will have complete reports Tuesday night. Results will also be available here at woodtv.com.’
24 Hour News 8’s Dani Carlson contributed to this report.