Ottawa County Administrator's Digest

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Alan G. Vanderberg, County Administrator
November 11, 2016

Ottawa County's Eleventh Annual Water Quality Forum

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Customer Service Skills Workshop for all Public Sector Agencies (Misty Cunningham)

We are thrilled to announce an exciting opportunity! Ottawa County is hosting a Customer Service Skills Workshop for Public Sector Agencies. The training is provided by Customer Service Advantage, Inc., a California based company. You can learn more about the company by clicking the link above. If you are interested, register soon because the training is limited to the first 25 people. Click on the image below for more details and to register.

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Judge Jon Van Allsburg Named Chief


The Michigan Supreme Court recently named Judge Jon Van Allsburg as Chief Circuit Judge of the Ottawa County Circuit Court.  He replaces Judge Ed Post, who is retiring at the end of this year, and who has served capably and honorably in the post for many years.  We congratulate Judge Van Allsburg and wish him the very best in the performance of his new and additional duties.

Spring Lake Fire Station Ribbon Cutting

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A number of us attended the ribbon cutting and open house for the new Spring Lake Fire Station on Saturday, October 29th.  It was a great ceremony for a fantastic new facility. I was “wowed” when I toured it.  The facility includes space for the Sheriff Substation that serves as headquarters for that area and this space was dedicated and named as the “The Gary A. Rosema Spring Lake Branch Office.”  The Sheriff, a man who always seems to know everything was surprised and humbled by the recognition.

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LAUP Dinner

A number of Commissioners and staff attended the LAUP Gala last Friday evening.  The well attended event celebrated the contributions of Mr. Michael Ramirez, Senior VP at Herman Miller and Dr. Alfredo Gonzales, Dean at Hope College.  A number of County officials and employees were in attendance. 

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Pipeline Article – Park West Drain

The Fall 2016 Pipeline Magazine, a publication of the Michigan Association of Drain Commissioners, includes an article entitled “Green Infrastructure for Ottawa County, Park West Drain gets Cost Effective Project with Environmental Benefits.”  The article highlights the excellent work done by Water Resources Commissioner Joe Bush and his staff and can be read by clicking the link above.

Ottawa County FOC Top “Large County” Performer in the State (Jennell Challa)

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At the Annual Michigan Family Support Council Conference in October, Office of Child Support Director, Erin Frisch, commended Ottawa County for consistently delivering exceptional performance in the child support program.

The State Office of Child Support presented recognition awards to counties that were top performers in the state.  Ottawa County received top awards in the large county category in four of five federal performance factor areas.  Specifically, Ottawa County was the top large county performer in paternity establishment, support order establishment, current support collections and collections on arrears.

Preliminary 2016 data indicates that the Michigan Child Support Program collected and paid out $1.36 billion in child support. Locally, the Friend of the Court in Ottawa County collected over $35.3 million in child support from their caseload of 13,300.

County and state child support offices in Michigan provide services for more than 881,000 children and their families. All families who receive public assistance are required to cooperate with the child support program to establish and enforce their child support orders. 

One in three children are served by the Michigan Child Support Program.  For many Michigan families, child support helps lift them out of poverty and achieve self-sufficiency.   

While not traditionally thought of as a social program, child support payments provide more support each month than food assistance, Women, Infants and Children (WIC) or Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

High performance also translates to an increase in federal incentive funding.  In 2016, Ottawa County earned $419,554 in incentives.

Most child support is collected through income withholding. However, collections are also made through new hire reporting, income tax refund intercepts, financial institution data matches, license suspension, credit bureau reporting, passport denials, civil contempt proceedings and felony charges.

Ottawa County has been innovative in using these collections methods in conjunction with removing barriers like unemployment and working with payers to create payment plans.  The FOC has also developed partnerships with other Ottawa County departments including the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department, the Legal Self Help Center and the Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office.

The Ottawa County Sheriff’s department has assigned three deputies to the FOC office to resolve outstanding civil warrants for non-payment and serve notices of paternity and support complaints.  The Legal Self Help Center provides legal assistance to self-represented litigants and often assists payers with motions to modify support and the Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office assists with enforcement through the issuance of felony non-support charges in cases where other enforcement tools have proven unsuccessful.

The mission of Michigan’s child support program is to achieve the well-being of children and self-sufficiency of families by delivering consistent, innovative and holistic services that promote healthy relationships between parents and children and ensure parents fulfill their financial obligations to their children.

The Friend of the Court in Ottawa County is fulfilling that mission every day and families and children are benefitting tremendously.

Northwest Ottawa Water System Refunding Bonds (Pat Staskiewicz)

In July of 2009, Ottawa County sold a bond issue for the Northwest Ottawa Water System, which serves the communities of Grand Haven City, Grand Haven Charter Township, Spring Lake Township, Ferrysburg City, Spring Lake Village, and portions of Crockery Township and Robinson Township.  The project expanded the water treatment plant located in Grand Haven from 14.5 million gallons per day (MGD) to 23.25 MGD.  The $15.42 million dollar bond issue took advantage of the Build America Bonds (BABs) and had a 20 year maturity with a true interest cost of 4.59%.  To date, over $2.3 million dollars in interest credit has been received from the BABs program.

Despite the good interest rates in 2009, the bond market continued to improve.  However, the interest credit from the BABs program was a deterrent to refinancing.  Fortunately, we discovered another financial solution.  With a normal refunding that takes place before the bond call date, an escrow account is set up to pay the principal and interest on the old bond until it can be decreased, which in this case is 2019.  Crossover Refunding, on the other hand, is a mechanism that allowed us to use the escrow to pay the principal and interest on the new bonds until the call date.  As a result, we can continue taking advantage of the BABs program interest credit through 2019. 

On September 21, 2016, Ottawa County sold $11.635 million in refunding bonds at a true interest rate of 2.62%.  This provided the Northwest Ottawa communities with $1.88 million or 11.9% in total savings.  This was a welcome windfall for the Northwest Ottawa Water System and will help them to maintain a safe and reliable water supply system for their customers.

Welcome Doug Huesdash (Becky Huttenga)

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New Senior Business Development Manager for the Great Lakes Ag-Tech Business Incubator

Doug joined the Incubator on September 6, 2016 and has really hit the ground running, helping our existing clients as well as bringing in new potential clients.  Before joining the Incubator, Doug used his many years of experience as an entrepreneur to help other up and coming business owners get started through his consulting business.  Business acumen is not Doug’s only strength.  He also has a passion for social enterprise, which many of you may be aware of due to his recent innovative effort to bring a food truck service here to the Fillmore Complex.  This food truck is operated by an organization that serves the recently incarcerated who are developing marketable skills in order to become more employable.  So not only could we get better lunch choices, we could also be helping some residents get back on their feet!   In his spare time, Doug and his family have been working hard on renovating a farmstead in Polkton Township that had sat vacant for a number of years, and they are making great strides on that project.  We are glad to have Doug on the team - stop by the Planning and Performance Improvement Department and meet him if you get the chance.


Ottawa County Board and Commission Vacancies

Ottawa County Board and Commission vacancies have been posted to, please follow the link to view and apply for open positions.

Thank you for your interest in serving on a Board or Commission!

Chili-Cook off, Open House, and Food Drive! (Becky Huttenga)

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The Thanksgiving holiday is a time of comradery and the celebrations revolving around food!  In that spirit, we invite you to the Planning and Performance Improvement Department to enjoy some food and comradery while also helping those who do not have enough food for their own celebrations.  This event is an Open House and Chili Cook Off to show off our recently remodeled office space. If you want to vote in the cook off (or just eat chili!) please bring a small donation of a non-perishable food item or cash that will be contributed to Feeding America West Michigan.  According to their website, Ottawa has almost 26,000 food insecure residents.  Come help us pay it forward and also determine which member of the PPID rocks out the best chili!  Remember, if your office is not located on the Fillmore Complex but you happen to be on campus on Tuesday, November 22 from 11:30 – 1:30pm, we would love to have you come by and participate. 

Ottawa County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority Updates (Becky Huttenga)

Best Financial Credit Union (Best FCU) plans to open their first Ottawa County branch office in Spring Lake Village at the corner of School and Savidge Streets.  Best FCU is planning to begin demolition of the existing building in December and expect construction to be completed summer of 2017.  The new branch office will require approximately 4 full time and 3 part time employees to operate.  Since the property is in an area that has environmental contaminants in the soil and groundwater, the Ottawa County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (OCBRA) assisted Best FCU with this project by using a number of tools available for brownfield redevelopment.   A Brownfield Plan was approved in August, which will allow tax increment revenue to be captured and used to repay the developer for the added redevelopment costs associated with the contamination.  The OCBRA also secured a loan from MDEQ that will fund some of those costs then be repaid with tax increment revenue.  Finally, the OCBRA utilized available grant funding to pay for the environmental assessments that were necessary.  

EPA Assessment Grant Funding was awarded to Ottawa County in 2013.  This $400,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was used to assist developers in performing environmental assessments of brownfield sites, a critical part of responsible redevelopment.  Brownfield sites are those that have been contaminated, typically by industrial or commercial uses such as gas stations, manufacturing, or dry cleaners, or are underutilized, blighted or functionally obsolete.  This grant, administered by the OCBRA, ended on September 30, 2016.  While the final report is still being prepared, the preliminary results of the grant show very positive outcomes from the 34 redevelopment projects that were assisted in 11 municipalities.  Some of the estimated economic impacts of these projects include $47.5 million invested in property acquisition and development, 276 temporary jobs, and 484 permanent jobs.   In addition to the powerful economic impact, these projects also had a positive environmental impact as hazardous substances were cleaned up on sites that may have otherwise remained vacant and unused.  The OCBRA is currently preparing an application for additional funding from the EPA.  Awards for this application will be announced in early summer of 2017. 

Before – Defunct Fuel Station
After –Gull Lake Marine


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