GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Grand Rapids voters approved a proposal Tuesday to extend an income tax hike first passed in 2010 for another 15 years.
The money will be used to repair the city's crumbling roads and sidewalks. The measure passed 66% yes to 24% no. A second proposal making the city responsible for sidewalk repairs also passed 72% to 28%.
Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrum told WZZM 13 the money for road improvements will not become available until next July, but inspections of sidewalks will end immediately.
Mayor Heartwell says the margin of victory is the biggest the city has seen in 20 years.
The city of Grand Rapids sent the following news release Wednesday morning:
Affirmative Vote Means Immediate Sidewalk Changes in Grand Rapids
On Tuesday, the citizens of Grand Rapids said it is time to invest in our streets and sidewalks. Passage of both questions means that the City Charter has been amended to eliminate property owner responsibility for the cost of sidewalk repair, improvement and reconstruction.
"This change for sidewalks is effective May 7, 2014. The City Commission designed the ballot language to change responsibility for sidewalks immediately upon approval of the ballot," said Mayor George Heartwell. "This is an important step forward to save property owners money and improve our sidewalk system."
Property owners' responsibility for repair and replacement of sidewalks abutting their property has now been eliminated and will run for the length of the income tax continuation. The City will take over the responsibility for these repairs using a systematic, data driven asset management approach.
Property transactions that close on May 7 or later will not be subject to the Point of Sale ordinance. Property transactions that were subject to Notice to Repair and closed on May 6 or earlier will continue to be subject to the ordinance and related costs. Property owners will remain responsible for commercial areaway structures (supported slabs), snow melt systems, drive approaches and retaining walls.
Property owners that have received a Notice to Repair and completed the work by May 6 or earlier through the City contract or an independent contract will continue to be subject to the ordinance and related costs. Property owners that have received a complaint based Notice to Repair but have not completed the work either independently or through a City
contract will not be subject to the ordinance or charter provision regarding responsibility for payment.
For more information on individual properties, please dial (616) 456-3243.
The Sustainable Streets Task Force:
The Sustainable Streets Task Force was comprised of 35 business, neighborhood and community leaders and presented recommendations for achieving better streets and sidewalks following 18 months of research and discussions with the community. Their recommendations sought to improve Grand Rapids' street system from a 60% poor rating to 70% in a State of Good Repair by implementing a 15-year investment plan made up of current investment, new local investment, and new state investment. Their recommendations also included returning responsibility for sidewalks back to the City.