Muskegon considers streetlight assesment to improve, turn lights back on

An effort is underway to restore street lights in Muskegon turned off to save money during tough times.

MUSKEGON, MICH. - For a decade, the city has slowly reduced the number of street lights in the city to cut energy costs. If a new assessment is approved, the city might be able to bring back some of the locations that are turned off.

Last October, the Muskegon City Commission considered a $26-per-year assessment to fund the operation of street lights. 

But Commissioners were deadlocked, and the 3-3 vote meant the assessment failed.

Now, city leaders are pursuing a new assessment. The city's plan this time around includes the replacing of the costly existing street lights with new energy efficient lights.

The special assessment the city of Muskegon is considering would cost property owners $18.85 each year and last for 10 years. 

The money generated from the assessment would be used to purchase new efficient LED fixtures. Those would replace the current sodium vapor lights that use more electricity to operate. 

"So the goal here is upgrade the lights, make them more cost effective to leave on and kind of stop the bleeding so to speak of street-light reduction," said Frank Peterson, the Muskegon City manager.

Property owners were sent a survey card. Peterson says the city is registering mixed feedback, with about 1,500 survey cards in opposition, and about 1,200 survey cards in support of the assessment.

Peterson says the city needs a funding mechanism to pay the utility bill streetlights create.

The previous proposal failed following significant  opposition from residents. 

"I think it is a lot of money for some people," said Muskegon resident Travis Jenerou. He says he's happy with the current lights, and he told the city that on the survey card sent to his home.

"What we have is fine," added Leland Koone. 

At the corner of Forest and Division, there are two street lights.

It's where Lester Ivery has lived for 50-years. He's already told commissioners what he thinks about the proposal.

"I wrote 'no' on my letter, yes I did," Ivery said.

Koone adds: "It does not need to be brighter at night, people are sleeping."

There are nearly 2,000 street lights dotting the city. The city estimates new LED-lights would cost around $350,000 less per year compared to the existing lights -- and they'd be brighter, too.

Residents have input, but it's for city commissioners to make the final vote.

"I think they have their mind already made up," Jenerou said. "I think it is going to pass no matter what."

The commission is likely to vote on the assessment at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25, at city hall.

(© 2016 WZZM)


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