Grand Haven borrows $5M for public improvement


The City Council of Grand Haven has approved pursuing the issuance of $5.19 million in bonds to fund three public improvement projects.

The three proposed capital projects include: replacing the current water meter system and converting to a monthly billing cycle; renovations on the Washington Avenue campus, which includes city hall, the public safety and annex building; and replacing old water mains on Water Tank Hill.

Geri McCaleb, mayor of Grand Haven, said the projects will save money in the long run and are a good investment.

“These are investments that we want to make into our own campus and into our own community, and the long-term effect of this will save us money, and it will help us pay back the $5 million that we are borrowing,” said McCaleb. “It is an investment into the future of our community. I think it is a good investment.”

The three projects will be funded through the limited-tax general obligation $5.19 million bond, with a reimbursement term of 15 years.

James Bonamy, finance director for the city of Grand Haven, said the campus improvement project has been allocated $2.2 million, while $2.3 million to $2.5 million will fund the replacement of the water meter system.

“We are actually going out to borrow, to be reimbursed from future tax revenues,” said Bonamy.

Replacing the old water main lines on Water Tank Hill will use $400,000 of the $5.19 million bond, while $400,000 will come from the city’s water fund. The decision to split the financing sources for the water main project was a compromise by members on the council, according to McCaleb.

“I think everybody was pretty much on board with a bonding for the public safety and the water metering system,” said McCaleb. “The thing that there was a discussion about was the Water Tank Hill — whether we should pay that out of money we have in reserve or whether we should borrow that.”

The importance of proactively replacing the water lines in Grand Haven surfaced when a 12-inch main pipe broke on the dune at Water Tank Hill in early 2013. According to McCaleb, the city spent approximately $700,000 replacing the line and re-establishing the dune.

“We put a new line in, we put sand back and put plantings there, but there are other lines up there just as old as that line,” said McCaleb. “In order to avoid having another catastrophe like that on the dune, we want to replace those lines before anything happens. We don’t see a problem, but those lines are old and we need to replace them.”

Converting the water meter system to a new smart meter will allow Grand Haven to switch over to a monthly billing cycle, providing efficient water usage reading and the ability for homeowners to identify problems more quickly

“With a monthly billing, if there is a problem on the property, it is much easier to identify. … We will be able to keep an eye on it and people won’t be hit with these large bills. We will be able to detect the problem early on,” said McCaleb. “As meters age, they slow down, and we will have a more accurate measure of water usage; and with the monthly billing, it will be more efficient and more customer friendly.”

According to McCaleb, improving the city hall, public safety and annex building on the Washington Avenue campus includes replacing windows and installing a new heating and cooling system.

“We have been talking about making improvements on those for quite some time. Again, it is an investment in property that gives you a payback in more efficient workings in those properties,” said McCaleb.

“We just want to take care of our own house and make sure it runs smoothly, is energy efficient and is well taken care of.”

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