On January 1, 1847, Jannes Vande Luyster of the Province of Zeeland, the Netherlands, wrote in his diary, “I have observed the wonderful way of God in the opening of the door to America.” He sold all his physical assets in the Netherlands to provide passage to America for those without means and on April 20, 1847, 457 immigrants seeking religious and political freedom left the security of home for the unknown opportunity of America. Welcomed by the Holland colony, the new immigrants traveled upstream along the Black River and settled a mile or so to the east on 80 acres. The beginnings of what is now the City of Zeeland. By the fall of that year, forest land was cleared for farming and 120 log homes were constructed. Within the first year a school and a place for worship were constructed.
Zeeland’s tradition of productivity and tenacity has been an important component of the growth of its economic segment. The industrial composition of the city is well diversified, with some 60 industries located within the corporate limits employing over 12,000 persons. Included are such well-known corporations as Herman Miller, Inc., an international leader in the manufacturing of office systems furniture; Howard Miller Clock Company, one of the largest producers of grandfather clocks in the world; Gentex Corporation, a manufacturer of transportation equipment for the auto and aerospace industry; Mead Johnson, a large producer of nutritional infant formula, and many more. Industrial and commercial valuations currently comprise 81% of the city’s ad valorem tax base of $555,634,618. Additional tax base is provided from the industrial facilities tax on property valued at $166,119,047 and levied at one-half the regular property tax rate. In fiscal year 2015-16 the city will levy 11.1354 in general operating millage and 0.1000 to support the operations of the West Michigan Airport Authority.
With the exception of the West Michigan Airport Authority, there are no special millages or debt millages levied. To supplement activities of other funds, and to invest in capital improvement projects, a large part of the city’s operating millage is transferred out to other funds. In the past ten years, transfers to other funds have averaged 34.3% of total general fund expenditures. Street infrastructure projects have been the major recipient of this funding source.
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