Grand Rapids, Michigan

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Grand Rapids is a city in Kent County, Michigan. Its population according to the 2010 census was 188,040.[1] It is the second-largest city in the state next to Detroit.

Grand Rapids has been a home-rule city with its own city charter since 1916 which provides for the Commission-Manager form of municipal government. Political responsibilities in the city are divided between an elected City Commission and a full-time city manager.[2]

Website evaluation

Main article: Evaluation of Michigan city websites

This website was reviewed on April 24, 2012.

The good

  • The current and previous budgets are posted.[3]
  • City Commission meeting schedules and minutes are posted.[4]
  • Elected officials are listed, with contact information and term expiration dates.[5]
  • Administrative officials are listed, with contact information and biographies.[5][6]
  • Building permit forms and zoning information are posted.[7]
  • The city's Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports are posted.[8]
  • Current bid opportunities are listed.[9]
  • The city's check register is posted online.[10]
  • A Freedom of Information Act coordinator and contact information are posted, along with an online form.[11]
  • Information on property taxes are posted, and an online payment option is available.[12]
  • Income and property tax rates are listed.[13]

The bad

  • No lobbying affiliations are listed.
  • Current contracts are not posted.


Income tax

Grand Rapids has a city income tax in addition to property taxes.[14] In 1995, voters approved a 1.3% income tax for residents and .65% for non-residents as long as at least 32% of the general operating fund being spent on police services. In 2010, voters approved a temporary increased to the income tax effective through 2015, of 1.5% for residents and .75% for nonresidents.[14]

Property tax

The millage rate for fiscal 2012 is 8.3713.[14]


Approved Appropriations by Functional Group, July 1, 2011[14]

Group Appropriations
Design, Development and Enterprise $137,926,085
Public Safety 97,865,025
Fiscal Services 48,502,180
Community Services 40,825,779
Administrative Services 30,165,677
Other Services 22,583,837
TOTAL $379,217,893

Public employees

Elected officials

Two part-time city commissioners are elected to four-year terms from each of three wards, with half of these seats up for election every two years. The part-time mayor is elected every four years and serves as chair of the Commission. The Commission sets policy for the city, and is responsible for hiring the City Manager and other appointed officials.[2]

Current Commissioners[5]

Position Name Term Ends
Mayor George Heartwell December 31, 2011
First Ward Commissioner Dave Shaffer December 31, 2013
First Ward Commissioner Walt Gutowski December 31, 2011
Second Ward Commissioner Rosalynn Bliss December 31, 2013
Second Ward Commissioner Ruth E. Kelly December 31, 2011
Third Ward Commissioner James B. White, Sr. December 31, 2013
Third Ward Commissioner Elias Lumpkins, Jr. December 31, 2011

As of October 2011, discussions of merging Grand Rapids government with the Kent County government are ongoing.[15]

City manager

The city manager is appointed by the city commission. The current city manager, Greg Sundstrom, was selected in 2009. He has worked for the City of Grand Rapids in various capacities since 1981.[16]


Main article: Grand Rapids employee salaries


In fiscal 2010, pensions had $101 million in unfunded liabilities and retiree health care was underfunded by $221 million. Labor and management worked to address this in 2011 by moving to a defined-contribution plan for new hires and requiring greater employee contributions to health coverage[17]

External links


  1. U.S. Census Bureau, "U.S. Census Bureau Delivers Michigan's 2010 Census Population Totals, Including First Look at Race and Hispanic Origin Data for Legislative Redistricting," accessed October 20, 2011
  2. 2.0 2.1 Official Grand Rapids city website Government Information," accessed October 20, 2011
  3. Official Grand Rapids city website, "Budget Office," accessed April 24, 2012
  4. Official Grand Rapids city website, "Commission Meetings," accessed April 24, 2012
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Official Grand Rapids city website, "Elected Officials," accessed April 24, 2012
  6. "Official Grand Rapids city website" "Departments," accessed April 24, 2012
  7. Official Grand Rapids city website, "Forms and Applications," accessed April 24, 2012
  8. Official Grand Rapids city website, "Comptroller's Reports," accessed April 24, 2012
  9. "Official Grand Rapids city website" "Current Bid Opportunities," accessed April 24, 2012
  10. Official Grand Rapids city website, "Checks Issued for FY 2010," accessed April 24, 2012
  11. Official Grand Rapids city website, "Freedom of Information Act Request," accessed October 20, 2011
  12. Official Grand Rapids city website, "City Treasurer," accessed April 24, 2012
  13. "Official Grand Rapids city website" "Tax Rates," accessed April 24, 2012
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Official Grand Rapids city website, "FY 2012 Final Fiscal Plan," accessed October 20, 2011
  15. Michigan Radio, "Talks about Grand Rapids, Kent County merger will go on, accessed October 20, 2011
  16. Official Grand Rapids city website, "City Manager," accessed October 20, 2011"
  17. Official Grand Rapids city website, "Citizen's Guide," accessed October 20, 2011