FAQ

August 2022 Millage Proposal

Frequently Asked Questions

What are voters being asked to consider?
Kentwood is asking residents to consider a permanent dedicated millage that, if approved, will  support the City’s parks, trails and recreation programming. 
What would the millage pay for?

The millage would be used to implement, operate and maintain a series of needed park, trail and programming improvements:

  • The most immediate needs at every park will be addressed within the first five years and all improvements will be completed within 10 years.
  • All parks will receive improvements, which are outlined at kentwood.us/millage. There are a variety of improvements planned, such as new equipment, signage, lighting, ADA upgrades, new fields, courts, playgrounds and splash pads.
  • Trail improvements and construction planning will be prioritized in the first year, followed by ongoing trail repairs and expansion to enhance the trails for all users.
  • The City campus will be transformed into a community gathering space with the addition of a splash pad, playground, plaza, shelters, stage, event lawn, additional parking, improved accessibility, restrooms and other site amenities.
  • A new multigenerational community recreation center will be added on the City campus to accommodate the growth of indoor programming and serve as a year-round health and wellness facility in the heart of Kentwood.
  • Increased capacity in space and staffing will allow Kentwood to lead new and expanded programs for various indoor and outdoor activities for all ages.
How much would this millage cost me?

If approved, homeowners would pay 1 mill per year. For example, a resident whose home has a taxable value of $100,000 would be assessed $100 annually. 

What is a mill? A mill is 1/1000 of a dollar, or .001 cents. If a tax rate or millage rate is 1 mill, a resident is taxed .001 cents for every dollar, or $1 per $1,000 of the taxable value of the property.

Why does the City need more funding for parks, trails and recreation?

Available parks and recreation funding has not kept pace with increased resident demand, leaving the City unable to make needed repairs and improvements for the community today and for future generations.

If approved, the new millage would provide a sustainable funding source to improve, operate and maintain Kentwood’s parks, trails and recreational programming.

How has the need been determined?
The millage and improvement plan was recommended by parks advisory committees that included residents, as well as extensive community engagement and an in-depth review of the City’s current parks, trails and programming, its projected growth and community needs.
Why not fund parks, trails and recreation with other sources such as grants?
Kentwood has exhausted current general fund dollars for parks, trails and recreation, including a parks millage that expired in 2013. While the City has made parks improvements with grant dollars, this funding source is becoming more difficult to secure. Additionally, grants cover only the cost of installation and do not provide funding for operational and maintenance expenses associated with a facility or equipment. If approved, the new millage would provide a sustainable funding source to improve and maintain Kentwood’s parks, trails and recreational programming.
What happened to the last parks millage?
Kentwood’s last parks millage expired in 2013.
How much funding does Parks and Recreation receive annually?

Parks and Recreation operates on approximately $1.5 million per year, along with revenues it generates from events and occasional grants.

These funds are insufficient to continue to maintain and improve current parks, trails, facilities and programming. Indoor programming hosted by the Parks and Recreation Department has also reached its capacity.

How have improvements been prioritized?

City leadership has dedicated significant time and effort to establish plans for the next 50 years of community growth. As part of this process, Kentwood updated the Parks and Recreation Business Plan and master plan for all parks in 2018. The City then established parks committees comprised of Kentwood residents and other stakeholders and launched extensive community engagement efforts.

Over several months, the parks committees reviewed and prioritized improvements identified in the Parks and Recreation Business Plan, Parks Master Plan and Non-Motorized Trail Plan, as well as findings from the Plan Our Parks – POP! public engagement series and a citywide survey.

The result was a comprehensive plan that included a recommendation to seek a permanent dedicated millage and contribute additional funds from other sources to make needed improvements that would touch every park, improve trails and fund a new multigenerational community recreation center. The plan was presented to the City Commission, which approved the millage ballot proposal for the Aug. 2 election.

 

Who developed the plans for improvement?

Improvements were identified through significant input from residents, City staff and consulting firms as part of the process for updating the Parks and Recreation Business Plan, Parks Master Plan and Non-Motorized Trail Plan. Improvements were also identified through public feedback during the Plan Our Parks – POP! public engagement series.

This millage proposal was recommended by parks advisory committees that included residents, as well as extensive community engagement and an in-depth review of the City’s current parks, trails and programming, its projected growth and community needs.

 

What types of resident/community feedback were considered in this process?

Community feedback has been the primary driver of this process to ensure detailed visionary planning improves upon Kentwood’s excellent quality of life for the next 50 years. In order to create the Parks and Recreation Business Plan, public input was gathered through key stakeholder interviews, a community forum, focus group meetings, staff input and a statistically valid survey of residents.

Concept plans were provided at public meetings, also known as the Plan Our Parks – POP! public engagement series, throughout the City of Kentwood, where residents were encouraged to provide comments and suggestions on the plans as part of the parks master planning process.

The parks advisory committees were assembled by gathering a broad cross section of Kentwood residents and stakeholders to ensure the diverse needs of the community would be represented in the review and prioritization of proposed improvements.

What is the timeline?

If approved, the millage would be levied starting July 1, 2023.

All parks would receive improvements to address the most immediate needs within the first five years, with all remaining improvements completed within 10 years.

Trail improvements and construction planning would be prioritized in the first year, followed by ongoing trail repairs and expansion to enhance the trails for all users.

Construction of the City campus park amenities and new community recreation center would begin in the second year, with the goal of transforming the campus into a community gathering space within the first few years. The amenities would include a new splash pad, playground, plaza, picnic shelters, stage, event lawn, additional parking, improved accessibility, restrooms and other site amenities.

A new multigenerational community recreation center would be added to accommodate the growth of indoor programming and serve as a year-round health and wellness facility in the heart of Kentwood.

The Kentwood Activities Center on 48th Street would remain open and be focused on multigenerational programming.

In the third year, Covenant Park Phase 1 improvements would begin. This would include trails, sports fields, an event lawn, lighting and infrastructure to support future phases. Covenant Park is Kentwood’s newest and largest park with 109 acres of land.

Increased space and staffing capacity would allow Kentwood to lead new and expanded programs for various indoor and outdoor activities for all ages.

How would residents be updated on the construction process?
Updates on the construction process would be available on the City’s website, posted to our social media pages and included in the monthly eNewsletter.
Why would the millage be permanent?
A permanent, dedicated millage would ensure the City has a sustainable funding plan to make needed repairs and improvements and maintain the City’s parks, trails and recreation programming today and for future generations.
Who would do the work?

City staff would handle some of the initial and ongoing work. Staff would send out a request for proposals for larger projects and facilities, then work closely with those awarded the projects to ensure they met expectations for quality, cost and timeliness. 

What are the plans for the City campus?
City campus refers to the area surrounding City Hall where a number of large community events are held, such as the Summer Concert Series and Fourth of July celebration. Enhancements to the City campus would help create a community gathering space in the City of Kentwood. These would include a new splash pad, playground, plaza, picnic shelters, stage, event lawn, additional parking, improved accessibility, restrooms and other site amenities.
What are the plans for the community recreation center?

A new multigenerational community recreation center would be added to accommodate the growth of indoor programming and serve as a year-round health and wellness facility in the heart of Kentwood. The community recreation center is proposed for 13-plus acres of City-owned property at 4755 Walma Ave. SE. There would be additional opportunities for community feedback as specific plans for this facility are developed. The Kentwood Activities Center on 48th Street would remain open and focused on various programs for all ages. 

What would happen to the Kentwood Activities Center?

The Kentwood Activities Center would remain in its current location offering multigenerational programming.

What are the plans for parks?

There are a variety of improvements planned, such as new equipment, signage, lighting, ADA upgrades, new fields, courts, playgrounds and splash pads. All parks would receive improvements, which are outlined at kentwoood.us/millage, which also features a detailed investment plan.

What are the plans for Phase 1 of Covenant Park?
Covenant Park is Kentwood’s newest and largest park. Parks committees recently developed a long-term conceptual plan for the park. Phase 1 will include trails, sports fields, event space and the initial infrastructure to support future growth of the park.
Does the City maintain a detailed plan for trail improvements?

Yes. The City maintains a Non-Motorized Facilities Plan, which was included in the Parks, Trails and Recreation Advisory Committee review process. In addition to park and recreational improvements, revenue from the proposed millage would be used to improve existing trails as well as help make connections planned in the Non-Motorized Facilities Plan.

What are the plans for trails?

We know Kentwood’s trail system, which includes walking, biking and nature trails, is a high priority for the community. This millage would allow for improvements to the trail heads, ongoing trail maintenance and potential new connections as guided by the Non-Motorized Facilities Plan. If the millage is approved, trail improvements and construction planning will be prioritized in the first year.

What are the plans for programming?
Parks and Recreation has reached its indoor programming capacity due to staffing levels and space constraints. A new multigenerational community recreation center would house more indoor programming, allowing expanded programming for all ages. This increased space and staffing capacity would allow Kentwood to lead new and expanded programs for various indoor and outdoor activities for all ages.
Will there be additional senior programming?
Yes. A new multigenerational community recreation center would allow the Parks and Recreation Department to increase programming for all ages.
What about a community pool or aquatics center?
The Parks and Recreation Business Plan survey results revealed community interest in aquatic facilities. However, when evaluated in terms of priorities and costs, the Parks, Trails and Recreation Advisory Committee ultimately decided not to pursue an aquatics facility at this time. The design of the new multigenerational community recreation center accommodates future growth/expansions, including a pool, should the community interest remain in the future. This is something that would be reevaluated in the future.
Why do you need additional staff?

Parks and Recreation is limited in the programming it can offer due to staffing levels and space constraints. Additional staff would allow the Parks and Recreation Department to lead new and expanded programs for various indoor and outdoor activities for all ages. Community feedback has shown strong interest in additional programming opportunities, which can only be met with additional staff.

Why aren't the taxes I currently pay enough to improve parks, trails and recreational programming?

Available parks and recreation funding has not kept pace with increased resident demand, leaving the City unable to make needed repairs and improvements today and for future generations. Kentwood has exhausted current general funds, including a parks millage that expired in 2013.

While the City has made parks improvements with grant dollars, this funding source is becoming more difficult to secure. Additionally, grants cover only the cost of installation and do not provide funding for operational and maintenance expenses associated with a facility or equipment. 

What happens if the millage is not approved?
Without new funding, the City will be unable to make the improvements outlined in the investment plan.
What is the City doing with COVID-19 recovery dollars and other federal funding? Could those funds be used to pay for park improvements?
Park improvements are an eligible use of American Rescue Plan Act funds. The City Commission will consider the use of ARPA dollars and other federal funding toward the $22 million the City plans to contribute from other public and private sources for needed improvements. These short-term federal dollars would be supplemental to our efforts – not a sustainable funding source for ongoing operational and maintenance expenses.