The cost of living is going up in Big Rapids. The City Commission is increasing the city's contribution for health insurance for its employees because, like everyone else, their health insurance rates are going up.
“I don't know where you can look and not find someone somewhere affected by increases in health insurance,” says Big Rapids Mayor Mark Warba.
The Commission authorized the increase during Monday's meeting noting that what city employees contribute to that cost is also going up. The overall average premium increase for city employees in 2017 is anticipated to be 7.5 percent 4.2 percent of which is paid by the employee.
The Council also passed an ordinance increasing the rates for recycling in Big Rapids. Warba says that's due to an increase in rates charged by the Kent County Recycle Center in Grand Rapids.
“The increase in recycle rates are being passed through in part because those that take in the recyclable materials are finding that they need to up what they charge.”
The contract with Kent County Recycle Center also allows for a 25 percent administrative charged that the city levies for administrative costs. Recycle rates in Big Rapids will rise from $3.67 per month to $4.35 for residential customers and from $13.04 to $14.09 for commercial customers effective January 1, 2017.
An increase in rates paid by the city for renting snow removal equipment, in some cases as much as 100 percent over last year, was also approved by the Council.
Warba notes that Big Rapids remains a competitive community to live in as is evidenced by the amount of new growth happening in the area, such as Dunham's new store on Perry Avenue, the new O'Rielly Auto Parts store on State Street, new construction on FSU's campus, and others.
“And with that growth then, it's one of the ways I think we can help moderate what it costs to keep things up and running,” he says.