2/9/2023: County negotiating with ‘event center entity’

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Thursday, February 9, 2023

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County leaders are negotiating with an “event center entity.” But does that mean that project is finally moving forward? Also: Gov. Whitmer issued her 2023 budget proposal on Wednesday. Find out what she wants to fund. And Comstock schools has won a state grant to fund security upgrades.

News You Need To Know

County leaders coy about downtown event center

The idea of a downtown event center has been batted around for years. Different funding schemes have been proposed, but the project has never really gotten off the ground. An item on the Kalamazoo County commission’s agenda earlier this week hints that the effort may be gaining steam again. Commissioners voted unanimously to authorize county leaders to negotiate with an unnamed “event center entity” about parking. “The county is negotiating with a representative of the event center entity regarding the county’s comprehensive downtown parking strategy as it relates to potential developments that may or may not come to fruition,” Public Information Officer Taylor Koopman told MLive.

The effort to build an event center in downtown Kalamazoo has had a fraught history. At one point developers wanted the county to institute a hospitality tax to pay for the project. That idea was unpopular with residents who would have needed to vote on the tax and the idea eventually died. In 2020, the legislature passed rules to allow some counties to bypass voters and institute a hospitality tax directly. Many residents and downtown business owners worry such a facility would be expensive to run and make navigating the downtown more difficult. [MLive]

Whitmer budget boosts education, infrastructure

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday issued her budget proposal for 2023. The $79 billion budget would be the largest in state history, boosted by an unexpected $9 billion budget surplus. The budget includes big investments in education, infrastructure, the environment, and economic development. It also includes the governor’s plan to issue a one-time $180 refund for every tax filer in the state.

Among the headline items are a number of ambitious proposals. Under the plan, the state would be able to offer pre-K to every 4-year-old in the state and expand free tuition at community colleges and trade schools. The governor also wants to subsidize the manufacture of insulin. That critical medication is relatively inexpensive to produce, but very expensive to buy from private drug companies. Whitmer also proposes spending $523 million to improve drinking water, including replacing lead water lines throughout the state. Next, the revision process begins. State legislative committees will debate the governor’s proposals before developing their own budget. A final budget is due before Oct. 1 when the new fiscal year begins. [Bridge Michigan]

Comstock schools receive state money for safety

Comstock Public Schools has received a grant of nearly $220,000 to help fund security upgrades. Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey J. Thoenes announced Tuesday that the district was awarded the money from the State School Aid Act. He said the money will go toward installing a two-way communications system and hiring a security consultant. That consultant would evaluate the district’s security systems and planning and offer advice for improvements.

In a statement, Theones said the money allows the district to focus its regular budget on education. “We are thrilled to be able to make these enhancements to our district without the need to reallocate any funds,” he said. The funds are expected to be used before the end of the current school year. [WWMT]

NowKalamazoo Partner Event
Sounds of the Zoo logo

Jon Hayes “Between You & Me” Album Release Show

Jon Hayes | Daisybox
Friday, Feb. 17
6:30pm @ The Clover Room
$10 adv. | $15 at the door

John Hayes sitting with a guitar
John Hayes
Musician Daisybox with a microphone

Things To Do In Kalamazoo

Happy Hour with Steve – The Park Club
4:30PM 2/9

The Great Leap – Farmers Alley Theatre
7:30pm 2/9-11, 2pm 2/12

Karaoke – Shakespeare’s Pub
8:30PM 2/9

Comedy Open Mic – Valhalla Kalamazoo
9:00PM 2/9

Author Hop: Local Book Sale, Live Music, Prize Drawing – Portage District Library
5:00PM 2/10

Music with Steve Kamerling – Brick + Brine
6:00PM 2/10

Green Door Distillery Tour – Green Door Distilling Co.
6:00PM 2/10

Emma Rey Duo – Green Door Distilling Co.
7:00PM 2/10

Valentine’s Trivia Night – Bell’s Eccentric Café
7:00PM 2/10

Clybourne Park – Kalamazoo Civic Theatre
7:30pm 2/10-11; 2pm 2/12

First Date – Kalamazoo Civic Theatre
7:30pm 2/10-11, 2/17-18; 2pm 2/12, 2/19

Sean Miller – Final Gravity Brewing Co.
8:00PM 2/10

St. Valentine’s Day Massacre & Tournament of Chivalry – Kalamazoo county Expo Center
9:00AM 2/11

Valentine’s Day Vendor & Craft Show – Delta Hotel Conference Center
9:30AM 2/11

Your Story: A Chronicle of Connection – Public Media Network
10:00AM 2/11

Art Detectives: Ablaze with Color – Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
10:30AM 2/11

IceBURG Festival – Vicksburg Area Chamber of Commerce
6:00PM 2/11

Dooley Live – Brick + Brine
6:00PM 2/11

Date At The State – State Theatre
6:00PM 2/11

Bluegrass Power – Old Dog Tavern
7:00PM 2/11

Lamb of God – Miller Auditorium
7:30PM 2/11

“Symphony of Brotherhood” Cabaret – Kalamazoo Children’s Chorus
8:30PM 2/11

Online Viewing Session – Kalamazoo Astronomical Society
9:00PM 2/11

See more upcoming events here.

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