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GR officials move alternate proposal for parks deficit

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A deficit proposal has been approved for Grand Rapids parks funding after the costs of projects to-date came in higher than expected.

The fund had a deficit of about $1.3 million following projects completed through a special Grand Rapids parks millage approved by voters at the end of 2013. Further work was said to continue deficit funding.

Officials say that’s because construction and other costs came in higher than initially anticipated for renovations at the city’s first eight parks projects.

Six parks were up for renovations in this next year.

Commissioners by 5-2 vote approved a deficit elimination proposal at a Tuesday morning meeting that moves planning forward for all six. It passed a final review that evening.

Work at Mary Waters Park is to begin next spring.

Construction at the other five is to occur later in the summer, after the start of the next fiscal year.

To shore up funding, the plan includes a $1.2 million dollar short-term loan from the city’s General Fund as well as use of Community Development Block Grant or CDBG funding.

Those dollars were previously allocated to parks improvement as well as neighborhood infrastructure projects.

The city’s parks millage is a .98 mill, seven-year levy approved by voters to specifically improve and renovate city parks.

A decision on the city’s deficit elimination plan was postponed at an earlier October commission meeting after commissioners requested alternatives that would lessen inter-city fund loaning but still allow work to proceed.

The plan will be sent to the state, which is required any time a municipality fund ends a fiscal year with a deficit balance. As implemented, the plan would eliminate that deficit by June 30, 2016.

Hilary is a General Assignment and Enterprise reporter for WGVU Public Media. She joined WGVU in September 2014 after several years of experience as a local news reporter, anchor and photojournalist in Midland, Saginaw and Bay counties. She's also worked as a financial and business reporter and audio field producer.
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