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Kent County voters will decide Ready by Five .25 millage renewal

Kent County Ready by Five

The Ready by Five millage is scheduled to expire this year. Thursday, after requests for a millage increase, county commissioners voted to put it on the ballot at the current property tax rate.

Since 2018, Kent County’s Ready by Five has supported health, school readiness and well-being programs for children newborn to age five. There was a motion asking voters increase the Ready by Five millage from .25 to .45 mills.

Megan Cottrell is a member of Together West Michigan and mother of two children. She supports the increase. During the public comment session, she questioned Kent County Commissioners $15 million commitment toward the construction of Acrisure Amphitheater.

“We’re not in the midst of a music venue crisis, but we are in a childcare crisis and we need you to check your priorities.”

Cottrell added she’s not opposed to downtown economic development.

District 17 Commissioner Tony Baker offered a compromise. An amendment to increase the millage from .25 to .35 mills. It failed in a 10-9 vote. In the end, the .25 mills renewal passed 17-2. If voters approve it, Ready by Five will be funded for another six years.

Later in the day, County Administrator Al Vanderberg addressed the misconception county programs and projects are funded from one pot of money. He explained there are 40 accounts each with different rules.

“So, yes. The board did vote to allocate $15 million in hotel/motel tax money to the amphitheater. You’re not allowed to put $15 million of hotel/motel tax into the children of Kent County as lovely as that sounds.”

Vanderberg added that 95% of hotel/motel tax receipts come from outside Kent County.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.