The Consolidated Government Committee and the Citizens for Indepedent and Cooperative Communities have invested considerable time speaking out on a possible merger of Saugatuck and Douglas' governments.
It's a simple question going before the voters in the Allegan County communities today, "Shall the City of the Village of Douglas and the City of Saugatuck be consolidated as a single Home Rule City? " CGC spokesman Jim Storey told WOOD Radio while there will be costs to bring the governments together, there's also state funding to support it. "Through the Competitive Grant Assistance program (the state) has $15 million set aside for when two governments do merge to cover those costs." CICC spokesman Matt Balmer told WOOD Radio there are larger considerations like a bonding program for road work in Saugatuck that has 15 years of annual payments remaining. He added a consolidated government would have to go through its actions there, then ask the state to cover the costs. "Neither city has any money budgeted for anything like this. You're talking about a million dollars in up front cost."
Storey said this proposal has meaning beyond its impact in the neighboring communities. "Governments elsewhere in the U.S. cover more people and more area than ours do. Maybe it's one of the reasons that we lose population and jobs to other states, there's less government (there)." Balmer said they did not put on a last minute push, believing voters under their position and the implications of approval for this proposal. "We do a wonderful job, the two cities, we're financially sound, we provide great services. There isn't a large benefit to consolidating."