(undated - WHTC News) - Despite the struggling economy, Lakeshore voters were apparently in a giving mood yesterday.
That’s a conclusion that could be reached in the wake of Election Day voting in what normally is a referendum on school-related issues. While turnout was typically light in many precincts due to the lack of contested races, three high-profile tax questions brought out the voters in Holland, Zeeland and Saugatuck Township.
Holland school officials were overjoyed when two separate bond issues that would raise levies by 3.27 mills for 73 million dollars passed. The money would go towards what they say are badly-needed renovations to the district’s building infrastructure, as well as program upgrades and improvements, that could begin as early as this fall.
Emphasizing that no new taxes would be needed, Zeeland school officials were able to convince voters to approve a 20.2 million-dollar bond proposal that would also go towards renovations and improvements. A similar measure for 19 million was defeated three years ago, in part due to a backlash towards local governmental leaders in Blendon Township at the time that spilled over onto the bond issue.
Finally, a narrow two-vote margin that approved a half-mill increase in Saugatuck Township may mean a possible recount, although officials there say that no errors or malfunctions were initially apparent in voting tabulation. The municipality wants to fund a legal war chest to fend off tax and zoning court challenges by developer Aubrey McClendon.
What normally would be a rubber-stamp approval of annual non-homestead tax requests went through without incident across the Lakeshore, with memories of last year’s rejection in Saugatuck due to opposition to school district leadership decisions still fresh.
As for contested races, the only one was in the West Ottawa school district, where board incumbents Douglas Mahn and Susan Smith fended off a challenge by William Nicholas. An effort by opponents of a planned sewer replacement project to have voters recall all of Dorr Township’s elected officials also failed.
Election officials in Allegan and Ottawa County projected that around 10 percent of registered voters participated in yesterday’s election.
-Gary Stevens, WHTC/WYVN News