Parks Millage Information

Rockford Parks Millage

Residents in the City of Rockford will be asked to consider investing in the community through a dedicated parks millage on Nov. 2, 2021.

120 acres 2.5 mill $20 $640,000
Parks & trails needing repair Increase to property taxes over 20 years Average monthly cost per homeowner Annual investment in maintenance, upgrades and repairs

 

Rockford’s Parks are Well-Beloved and Well-Used

Last year, Rockford residents utilized our 120 acres of parks and trails more than ever. The global pandemic highlighted the importance of parks, trails and outdoors spaces. We’re fortunate our neighborhoods are surrounded by one of the largest parks systems per capita in the state, linking residents to public facilities and our downtown business district. This expansive system has made Rockford a walkable, bike-friendly community that is one of the most desirable places to live in West Michigan.

Over the past two decades, Rockford has developed and improved our public parks and trails, creating natural spaces for residents to enjoy. We’ve been successful in securing state grants and private donations to supplement tax dollars – and we will continue to do so.

While the pandemic has highlighted the resource these spaces are, it has also underscored how much they are in need of repair. The current funds available do not cover our costs for operations and maintenance, let alone replacement, upgrades or new capital improvements.

Why the millage is needed

While we are fortunate to have the extensive park system we do, the legacy costs to maintain our system have outpaced our budget.

Our list of maintenance needs is long – repairing failing sidewalks, maintaining pressure-treated wood, repairing trails, replacing playground equipment and more. This is in addition to routine maintenance, such as mowing, tree trimming and snow removal.

Continuing to maintain the increased number of parks and trails with our current level of resources is unattainable. The current situation has forced city leaders to choose between maintenance and improvement projects – when both are necessary. This proposed millage would both increase the level of park service and maintenance as well as free up funds for road improvements.

Quick Look

  • Our Parks & Trails are in need of repair
  • Costs have outpaced budget
  • $2.50 per $1,000 on taxable value of property
  • Funds will be dedicated to park maintenance, upgrades and investments
  • Extra funds will be freed up for much-needed road repairs
 

Our current budget does not even allow us to fully mow each of our parks on a weekly basis.

What the millage will do

Maintain | $425,000 annual investment*

Full-time employee
A full-time employee focused on parks will be a critical step to ensure all parks are fully maintained.  
      General maintenance & operations
Buying gas and mulch, repairing lawn ­­mowing equipment, cleaning and sealing decks and trails, power washing, repairing asphalt trails and related activities are necessary for proper enjoyment of parks and trails.

Replace & Upgrade | $100,000 annual investment*

Park amenities
Replacing and upgrading playground equipment, picnic tables and benches will make our parks welcoming and enjoyable to visit.
Safety and Infrastructure
Important infrastructure, such as sidewalks, lighting, canoe and kayak launches and more, would be replaced and upgraded to ensure the parks are accessible to all.

Invest | $1.5 million investment, $115,000 allocated annually*

Garden Club Park Master Plan
Capital improvements to complete the Garden Club Park master plan, including adding a splash pad, ice skating rink, outdoor fireplace and more. We will take steps toward completing the Memorial Park master plan as well.
Bond acquisition
The millage will enable us to borrow funds to complete the Garden Club Park master plan and pursue the completion of the Memorial Park master plan with the assistance of grants.

*approximate investments


Road Repairs

The passage of this ballot proposal will also help us maintain and improve our roads. If approved by voters, the parks will finally have asecure and dedicated revenue source and will no longer compete for funds from the general fund with other essential services, such as roads. This will enable us to redirect those now available general funds to streets. The approximately $350,000 historically allocated to parks from the general fund would then be allocated to supplement the annual revenue we receive from the state of Michigan to maintain streets.

Like the parks, the roads have been greatly underfunded, not allowing us to fully maintain, let alone improve the city streets. The additional revenue will enable us to begin implementing our major and local street capital improvement plan. The passage of the dedicated parks millage will enable us to do both: maintain and improve our park system AND maintain and improve our local streets.

What will this cost me?

The proposed millage is a 2.5 mill increase to property taxes for 20 years. This translates to $2.50 per $1,000 on the taxable value or real and personal property for residents.

The average homeowner in Rockford would pay $243 annually – about $20 a month.

What happens if the millage does not pass?

If voters do not support the millage, Rockford will be forced to make further cuts to our parks and trails funding, such as delaying repairs, removing failing playground equipment, closing some parks and perhaps selling others.

 

Parks Millage FAQ's

Parks Millage Brochure

Garden Club and Memorial Parks Master Plan

City of Rockford Parks and Trails