Metro Council Offering Dues Rebates

    GRAND RAPIDS — Member communities of the Grand Valley Metro Council, and of an affiliated agency, are getting rebates — refunds that couldn’t come at a better time for area cities and townships.

    Metro Council Executive Director Don Stypula recently said that the region’s planning agency would rebate a portion of the membership fees to all dues-paying units and related entities for this fiscal year, and, hopefully, for the next one, too.

    “I think this represents the concern we have for your financial condition,” said Stypula.

    The dues rebate will total $35,001, which is roughly 10 percent of a community’s annual membership fee.

    Stypula said the funds are being returned because local units have budget deficits and because the “shenanigans” that Lansing lawmakers played on the state’s revenue-sharing payments have hurt members. He added that the council was healthy enough financially to hand out the rebate.

    “Our budget for the current year is a break-even budget,” said Metro Council Treasurer Cy Moore.

    Moore said the rebate was coming from surpluses GVMC had in prior years.

    Cindy Heinbeck, Metro Council vice chairwoman, said the rebate would not endanger any matching funds that GVMC receives.

    GVMC currently has members representing 32 local units of government.

    The dues rebate was bolstered by a decision from the REGIS board of directors, which chose to cut the fiscal-year budget by 20 percent or $313,823. That action means another rebate for the communities that belong to the Regional Geographic Information System, an allied agency of the Metro Council.

    “The cuts that we are taking will not affect us in the long-term,” said REGIS Director Brian Berdanier.

    Berdanier said REGIS was considering offering associate memberships to firms in the local real estate industry and area universities. Joining REGIS would give those entities detailed information on properties within the region.

    For the current fiscal year, REGIS members will have their dues collectively reduced from $1.56 million to $1.25 million.    

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