Voters in Kent County this November will consider a millage that would provide a dedicated source of funding for community-based early childhood programs. According to the Kent County Clerk’s office, the "Ready by Five Early Childhood Proposal" will ask voters to approve a new six-year millage that would raise nearly $6 million a year to provide early childhood development services to persons up to age 5 and their parents.
Approved for the ballot last June by the Kent County Board of Commissioners, the proposal is the brainchild of non-profit First Steps Kent.
“(The millage would help) to identify delays early, or help with health issues, or any kind of developmental delays,” First Steps Kent CEO Annemarie Valdez said. “Making sure there are home visiting which are evidence based, providing resources, and really modeling techniques and activities for parents to continue on with their children who might have special needs.”
Under the proposal, a homeowner with an average home value of $150,000 will pay around $18 a year or roughly $1.50 per month.
Opponents of the millage include the Grand Rapids Taxpayers Association. President Michael Farage argues that Kent County residents already pay enough taxes as is.
“We are a group made up of middle class, working class, and poor people, and what this basically is are absolute filthy rich billionaires pushing a tax on we the people already struggling with paying the rent and maintaining our homes,” Farage said.
Officials say, if approved, Kent County will become the first county in Michigan with a dedicated property millage that supports early childhood programs.
The vote is set for November 6th.