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Aug. 3 election: What's on the ballot in Van Buren County

A $5.9 million bond proposal is on the Aug. 3, 2021 ballot for voters in Paw Paw and Paw Paw Township. Fire officials are asking for a new fire station to accommodate needs for more space and say it would allow for faster response times. (WWMT/Lexie Petrovic)

Voters in Van Buren County can expect to see five proposals on the ballot for the upcoming special election on Aug. 3.

Paw Paw Public Schools $53.64 million bond proposal

The Paw Paw Public School District is asking voters to consider a $53.64 million bond proposal.

If approved, the bond will fund along list of improvements and construction of a new high school athletic stadium and early childhood center.

In addition, the bond proposal would pay for the renovation of the STEM lab, the replacement of outdated furniture inside classrooms, the replacement of aging mechanical and kitchen equipment, the replacement of windows at the schools for improved energy efficiency, the expansion of the high school cafeteria, and various other projects.

If approved by voters, the bond proposal would increase the district's existing debt millage rate by 1.0 mill and cost the homeowner of a $100,000 home an additional $4.17 per month.

Paw Paw Township $5.9 million bond proposal for new fire station

The Paw Paw Fire Department is asking voters to consider a proposal that, if passed, would allow them to build a brand new fire station a couple of blocks from where they are located now, which was built in 1974.

“Our current station does not meet our needs whatsoever," Paw Paw Fire Chief Jim Jackson said. "It is way too small, we are landlocked here so we can’t expand on this building. Out in the engine room, the fire trucks are so packed in there that we have to move trucks out of the fire station to respond to calls. Some of the trucks you can’t even open the doors all the way to squeeze in and get into the trucks.”

Fire officials said the current building has hindered the department and current operations from future growth. The project has been talked about since 2012.

“We have had many meetings, we’ve met with all the organizations around town, we’ve had open houses, we’ve gone door to door and we’ve basically had all positive reaction from the taxpayers," Jackson said.

The department said a new station would be safer and would lead to faster response times.

“It [the money] will be used for the construction of the new building, all of the furniture in the new building, desks, radio equipment," Paw Paw Assistant Fire Chief Jim DeGroff said.

If passed, the proposal would result in a $47.50 increase per home with an estimated value of $100,000 for taxpayers in Paw Paw and Paw Paw Township.

“It’ll bring something the entire community can be proud of," DeGroff said. "It will bring a lot of needed space to our volunteers in this community. We are 100 percent volunteer, we don’t get paid a penny. We’ve never asked taxpayers for anything like this before in the 150-plus year history of this fire department.”

Fire officials said they are hopeful the community will support them on Aug. 3.

"We give a lot to the community and we feel they are going to give it all back to us and make this happen," Jackson said.

If approved, DeGroff said they would likely break ground for the new facility in September 2021 and officially open in October 2022.

Paw Paw Village new additional millage

The proposal looks to increase property taxes in the village by 1.5 mills for a period of five years beginning in 2021 and continuing through 2025.

It would raise approximately $128,000 in the first year with the money going towards updates, improvements, and operational and maintenance costs for village parks.

Lawrence Public School District $1.7 million bond proposal

Lawrence Public Schools is asking voters to consider a $1.7 million bond proposal to remodel school buildings and purchase new school buses.

“We’re a small district of about 640 students and two buildings in the district K through six and seven through 12 and both roofs on both buildings are aging and past their life expectancy -- over 20 years old and we need to get those repaired," Lawrence Public School Superintendent Gretchen Gendron said.

Gendron said new school buses are also a need.

“Our bus fleet is very aging and we have six buses within our fleet," Gendron said. "Three of those six buses are over 12 years old.”

If passed, the proposal would not result in a tax increase.

Lawrence Township Road Millage Proposal

Lawrence Township is asking voters to consider a proposal that would result in a $1.50 increase per $1,000 of taxable value.

If passed, the proposal would raise an estimated $175,286 in the first year for the purpose of road construction, improvements, rehabilitation, and maintenance.

Candidates on the ballot:

Running for a two-year term as South Haven City Mayor:

  • Ahmmad Goodwin
  • Scott E. Smith
  • Tim Stegeman

Running for a four-year term as South Haven City Council Seat Ward 2:

  • Wendi Onuki
  • Cam Daugherty

Running for Paw Paw Township Treasurer:

  • Republican Lisa Zinkil (partial term)