Vote on Grand Rapids’ $468M budget next week

The June 9, 2015 meeting of the Grand Rapids City Commission at Cesar Chavez Elementary.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — At $468 million, the 2016 budget is one of the largest in recent history for the City of Grand Rapids.

City commissioners will vote on the spending plan next week.

>>Online: City of Grand Rapids FY2016-FY2020 budget (PDF)

It was not long ago that the city’s budget discussion was about cuts in both people and services. Terms like ‘draconian’ came up more than a few times.

This year’s plan actually adds some positions.

So what’s happened to improve the picture?

Along with some major changes that created a leaner, meaner city hall, the economy improved. In 2010, city voters approved an increase to the income tax to pay for items and services that would make the city more efficient. That tax increase was extended in 2014 to pay for road improvements.

Voters also approved a millage increase to pay for parks.

City Manager Greg Sundstrom said Grand Rapids is better prepared for the next economic downturn.

“It’s also one of the healthiest (budgets) that we have presented. We are placing $3 million in our reserves and we continue to grow our fund balance and we continue to maintain all the services that we have in the past,” Sundstrom said.

One area expected to see more spending in this budget are neighborhoods.

Members of the public had the opportunity to weigh on the budget during Tuesday night’s commission meeting, which was held at Cesar Chavez Elementary as part of the Commission Night Out program.

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