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Consolidation of a Different Sort Underway in Holland


HOLLAND, MI (WHTC) - Municipal consolidation is in the air along the Lakeshore, but in one community, the talk is more about what's inside City Hall instead of joining City Halls.

Everything at Holland City Hall is being reviewed and re-reviewed as municipal officials are attempting to streamline operations, making them more efficient. The Holland City Council last night approved hiring a new “downtown manager” that will oversee a new, combined Downtown Development Authority and the Principal Shopping District department. In addition, the panel agreed to not immediately fill the Community and Human Relations Coordinator position vacated by last week’s retirement of Al Serrano. Both moves are seen as cutting down on municipal expenses. Council members discussed this and other staff openings with City Manager Ryan Cotton during last weekend’s budget retreat. Among other items on last night's meeting agenda was a formal presentation of the findings from the Frost Center’s phone survey of Holland residents about needs and services.

Meanwhile, proponents and opponents of merging the cities of Saugatuck and Douglas into a single municipal government say that there should be more than enough valid signatures on petitions to bring the matter before voters later this year. There is a February 18th deadline for submitting such petitions; state officials have already endorsed such a consolidation for various reasons, and the two cities have retained a non-partisan group to conduct a study into the pros and cons of consolidation.