Kent County OKs millage for zoo, museum

Grand Rapids Public Museum, John Ball Zoo, millage
Signs encouraging voters to vote for the millage to fund John Ball Zoo and the Grand Rapids Public Museum. (Nov 8, 2016)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Voters in Kent County have approved a millage to fund the John Ball Zoo and Grand Rapids Public Museum, WOOD TV8 projects.

Supporters say that together, the zoo and museum bring in $62 million to the local economy each year — but both have struggled over the years to find a steady funding source. Backers of the millage say it is the answer. The additional funds raised through it, about $9.2 million the first year, will pay to take care of the animals and artifacts as well as fund improvements and educational opportunities at the zoo and museum.

Kent County Commissioner Harold Voorhees chaired the committee to put the issue on the ballot.

“It was the positive campaign,” he said Tuesday night, explaining why the measure passed. “People want to say yes. Usually, in these cases, they’re looking for a reason to say on, but there was none.”

He also credited a jingle used in a pro-millage advertisement.

“It just added to the enjoyment of saying positive things for our community,” Voorhees said. “The positive that the voters would invest in these two awesome institutions to make sure that we serve the community today and for the generations to come just like those who founded both of these entities.”

He said the millage would start being collected in the middle of 2017.

For the owner of a $170,000 home, the additional .44 mills will add up to an extra $37.40 per year on your tax bill. The increase will run through 2025.

Over $414,000 of the money raised through the millage will go to the 18 Kent County Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Districts that, by law, keep taxes collected on property in their boundaries for local improvements. Downtown development authorities, smart zones and brownfield development areas are examples of TIFs.

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