Millage Money Flows to Downtown Improvements

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In growing Grand Ledge, the fire chief says his department needs more money.

"In these economic times ... you have to stretch every dollar," Chief Casey Godlewski said.

So Godlewski is going after money you might think would be completely available for the department: a fire millage.

The money is designated for emergency services in Grand Ledge and Oneida Township but by law some of it automatically gets funneled toward downtown improvements.

More than $100,000 followed that path to the Grand Ledge Downtown Development Authority, or DDA, since the millage started in the fall of 2004. It funds things like streetscaping, street lights and maintaining parking lots in downtown Grand Ledge.

"We're asking that the DDA will help us fund some recurring expenses or equipment," Godlewski said.

Tom Murray heads the Grand Ledge DDA.

"We're not planning on hanging on to all their money," Murray said.

But right now the group's plan doesn't allow it to help the fire department. So it's putting together a new one that Murray says will hopefully be ready within six months.

Trouble is, the DDA can't just write a check to the fire department.

"Legally we can't do that," Murray said. "You bring us a request and we will take that into consideration."

The chief is hoping they'll do so and take it seriously.

"Because we protect the DDA district as part of our community," Godlewski said.

He says like schools and police, good fire protection attracts residents and builds a better community. It's a goal he says should be shared by the group trying to grow the community's downtown.

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