January 2022 Edition
Greetings from the Mayor's Office
Happy New Year to all of you and your families! While 2021 provided ongoing frustration with the pandemic and its affects on so many areas of our daily lives, it also provided some opportunities where we could ‘get back to normal.’

Our industrial and commercial growth remained red-hot and do not appear to be slowing down. I remain committed to being involved as much as needed in discussions to ensure those businesses move to - or even expand - in Walker. I would like to illustrate the reasons why this specific growth is important:

One of the situations impacted by the pandemic we continue to monitor closely is that of our non-residents who work in Walker businesses. One of the big reasons we have been able to keep the city property tax rates lower than most other municipalities is through that of our city income tax for residents/non-residents. I know it is not a topic that many are fond of, and I hear you as I personally pay those same taxes. We know that a healthy and critical accounting measure is that expenses should not exceed revenues. So, when we have negative revenue impacts, we must pay extra attention to the financial impact to the City.
With the work from home shift affecting some businesses, many of our non-resident workers in the City are still working remotely (not within the city limits). As a result, they are not obligated to pay the non-resident income tax that they are normally required to. If we put ourselves in their shoes, we can better understand. These impacts will be felt for years and are currently in the millions of dollars for revenue loss to the City.

However, as a City, we must still provide all the governmental services to those affected businesses and those workers who are normally there. That includes, at minimum, our police and fire departments responding to alarm calls. This time of year, it also includes plowing and salting the roads around those businesses. These are a couple of scenarios that immediately come to mind, yet there are so many other services provided. So, we cannot slow down or not provide those services. Instead, we must adjust accordingly with our finances so that the services we must provide remain at the expected levels.

I share all of this with the good news that because of our City administrators and staff, we are in a position of financial strength. At our first City Commission meeting in December, our financial auditors confirmed this. I would also maintain that because we currently have no long-term debt obligations, that confirmation was made with an exclamation point. Simply put, jobs, businesses, and new housing starts in Walker are more critical than I can ever remember.

In addition to the industrial and commercial growth, our housing market also has two major developments currently being reviewed: These are located at the old English Hills Golf Course and Lincoln Country Club respectively. When we look at the business challenges that golf courses face today it is understandable why the former owners exited the business and sold the property. When asked “Why doesn’t the City just buy the land”, I go back to the business case illustrated above. We are in a position of financial strength because of good business decisions. Buying that land would cost the City tens of millions of dollars over time with no offsetting revenues. If I were to guess, the next couple of years will see that golf course development happening in other suburban communities as well. We just happen to be on the front edge of that movement. I am hoping these illustrations help paint a clearer picture of why what is happening in Walker is good and, in fact, needed.

As always, thank you to each of you for making the choice to call Walker home. I wish you and your families and friends a healthy and prosperous 2022.

Mayor Gary L. Carey, Jr.
Contact Your Commissioners
Mayor Gary Carey, Jr.
(616) 292-1715

Steven Gilbert
Mayor Pro Tem
First Ward Commissioner
(616) 828-7763 sgilbert@walker.city

Thom Burke
First Ward Commissioner
(619) 379-6036 tburke@walker.city

Roxanne Deschaine
Second Ward Commissioner
(616) 885-4191 rdeschaine@walker.city
Carol Glanville
Second Ward Commissioner
(616) 443-9313 cglanville@walker.city

Elaina Huizenga-Chase
Third Ward Commissioner
(616) 334-1900 echase@walker.city

Melanie Grooters
Third Ward Commissioner
(616) 690-1719 mgrooters@walker.city
Paying Property Taxes with the New Website
Clerk's Department Updates
Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced in December that there will be a special election to fill three vacant seats in the Michigan House of Representatives this spring. These vacancies are caused by the election of Representatives Douglas Wozniak and Mark Huizenga, who previously represented the 36th and 74th Districts, to the Michigan State Senate and the passing of Representative Andrea Schroeder, who represented the 43rd District.

This partial-term election is also needed due to redistricting, which will potentially change the district boundary lines. This special election will be on March 1, 2022, with the general election to be on May 3, 2022.

The Walker Clerk's Office will be mailing absentee ballot applications out as soon as possible. Please sign and return them immediately so your ballot can be mailed to you.

For questions, email elections@walker.city or call 616-791-6865.
For more election information, including polling locations, please click here.
Passports
The Walker City Clerk's Office is an official passport acceptance agency. You can have your passport photo taken here and apply for your passport! No appointment is necessary during the following passport hours:

Mondays – Thursdays: 7:30 am – 4:00 pm
Fridays: 7:30 am – 11:00 am.

Please call (616) 791-6865 prior to coming to confirm a processing agent is available and that you have all the proper paperwork with you, including checks for payment.
Please note: Passports are currently taking longer than usual to process. Please allow at least 16 weeks for your passport to be processed and mailed to you. If you need your passport expedited, processing time is 8-12 weeks.
Income Tax Department Updates

Due Dates
Fourth quarter estimated payments for calendar year 2021 are due January 31, 2022.
2021 individual resident and non-resident returns are due May 2, 2022. Forms are available on our website.

Forgotten Returns
If you have past years of Walker returns that you have forgotten to file, contact the tax department immediately at 616-791-6880. If you file prior year returns and pay the tax and interest due, you may request a waiver of penalty. If the tax department contacts you first regarding unfiled returns, you will not be eligible for a waiver of penalty.
We are electronically matching State of Michigan returns filed from a Walker resident address with Walker returns filed. If you have forgotten to file Walker returns from prior years, now is the time to get that cleared up before the letters go out from this matching program.
If you are not sure if you need to file Walker Income Tax returns, the most common questions are answered on our FAQ page. You can also call us at (616) 791-6880.
Department of Public Works Updates
Christmas Tree Recycling
Takes place December 26 - January 15.

Locations:
Walker City Hall - 4243 Remembrance Rd. N.W. Walker Community Park - 650 Cummings N.W. Walker Fire Station #3 - 1470 Three Mile Rd. N.W.

Please note this is open to Walker residents only. Trees only, no plastic.

Snow Removal
One of the biggest concerns of our snowplow operators is the safety of children waiting for the school bus or playing near the road. Even at residential speeds, the force of the snow coming off the plow is quite powerful. Additionally, ice chunks and road debris are often mixed in with the snow. Our operators do their very best to watch for children and adjust their speed and/or path to keep them safe. You can help us keep our snow removal operations safe and efficient by reminding your children of the following:
  • When waiting for the school bus, please stand back by the sidewalk and give the snowplow plenty of room.
  • When the snowplow comes by your house, please don’t let children play in the snowbanks by the road.
  • Please remove all objects from the road, such as portable basketball hoops, so it is easier for the snowplow drivers to clear the road.
Fire Department Updates
Prescription and Over-the-Counter Rx Disposal
Most people take medicine (over-the-counter, prescription, or vitamins) at some point in their lives. Occasionally, not all of it is used and it stays in medicine cabinets and drawers until it eventually expires. An estimated 20%-60% of prescription medications go unused.
Improperly disposing of medications by flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash represents an emerging concern for the environment and public health. Putting unused or expired medication in the trash sends it to landfills where it may seep into the surrounding water table. The pills could also be removed from the trash and used by someone else potentially resulting in illness or death. Flushing unused medications down the toilet sends these chemicals to sewage treatment plants that do not screen for them. That means the chemicals often end up in our lakes, rivers, and streams.

A 2002 U.S. Geological Survey analysis found that 80% of the national waterways tested contained low levels of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, steroids, and reproductive hormones. The correct way of disposing of unused, unwanted, or expired medications is by dropping them in drop boxes at participating local pharmacies and law enforcement agencies.

Pharmacies will accept the following items:
  • Prescription medications (non-controlled)
  • Antibiotics/steroids
  • Cold and flu medications
  • Vitamins and herbal supplements
  • Pet medications
  • Medication samples
  • Medicated ointments and lotions

NOTE: Prescribed controlled medicines like Codeine, Xanax, Vicodin, OxyContin, and Ritalin must be disposed of in a dropbox at a local law enforcement agency. To properly dispose of medications, leave them in their original containers but block out ALL personal information on the labels. Do not remove the name of the medication. SafeMeds has a list of participating pharmacies accepting unwanted medication, or you can simply ask your pharmacist. Drop boxes are also located at most West Michigan area police and sheriff departments. Certain restrictions may apply at any of the drop-off locations. Call the site you plan to use for more information on what is accepted.

Clearing Fire Hydrants
Winter is here and we are now faced with the chore of snow removal from driveways and sidewalks. However, many people do not realize that keeping our fire hydrants clear of snow is equally important. In the event of a fire emergency, having access to the fire hydrants for a water supply is critical in order to successfully combat a fire situation where time is of the essence. Therefore, the Walker Fire Department is asking for help in keeping the snow cleared away from the fire hydrant in front of (or near) your home or business. The best way to do this is by clearing the snow from the street to the hydrant in a 3-foot circle around the hydrant since this allows the fire hose to connect toward the fire truck faster.

We'll also be launching our Chief's Winter Adventure Challenge again this season!
Bundle up the kids and help them scour your neighborhood for hidden "golden nuggets" covered by the snow! Uncover these fire hydrants and post your pictures to our Facebook page. You and your kids could win an outdoor hot chocolate with our Engine Company!
Police Department Updates
We hope everyone enjoyed the holiday season & that the new year started off on the right foot.

Plan Ahead in Snow and Ice
Although we have not experienced much winter weather yet, we know it’s coming on a more consistent basis. Please, please, please…take it slow on ice and snow. We suggest checking weather reports the evening prior to a morning commute to allow yourself plenty of extra travel time when needed. Don’t tailgate & keep your lights on while driving. Finally, ensure the ENTIRE window is cleared of ice and snow before driving.

Warming Vehicles in Winter
Please do not leave your car unattended while it is warming up. We sometimes see upticks in vehicle theft this time of year because so many people leave their cars running, unlocked, and unattended. Don’t become a victim of auto theft! Cold winter mornings are hard enough, don’t add to it by leaving your car as an easy target for thieves. LOCK IT UP!

Children and Social Media
As a final note, have a talk with school-age children about social media. It gets them in trouble A LOT. Be mindful of what you are allowing your children to access. Social media can be a breeding ground for threats, harassment, and other bullying behavior. Get involved & know what they have on their phones, it may save them from a world of trouble!

As always, keep on with our daily posts on Facebook by liking & following “City of Walker Police Department-Michigan.”
Walker Ice and Fitness News
Spring Coed Youth Soccer Info
  • Registrations February 1, 2022 – February 28, 2022 (Limited spaces available).
  • 4-6 yr. old age group is $40 for Walker residents and $50 for non-residents.
  • 7-8 yr. old, 9-10 yr. old and 11-12-13 yr. old age groups is $50 for Walker residents and $60 for non-residents.
  • There is a $5.00 discount for each additional family member registered.
  • There will be a $10.00 LATE FEE charged for any registrations received after the February 28th deadline, if spaces are available.
  • VOLUNTEER COACH and get a refund for your registration!
  • Register online at www.walkericeandfitness.com
Library News

Monday - Wednesday:
9:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Thursday: 9:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday: Closed 
Winter Reading Program
We are pleased to present Let It Snow for adults and teens. This winter reading program returns with a collectible mug for completers. Read a minimum of six books between Monday, January 3, and Thursday, March 31 to receive the 2022 Let It Snow ceramic mug. Participants who finish an additional four titles will be entered into a drawing to win an iPad, an experience, or other prizes! Participate online at kdl.org/snow or pick up a printed form at any KDL Branch.
KDaLe Program Series
If you like beers and breweries, our KDaLe program series is for you! If you think your home brew has what it takes to be crowned champion, here's your chance! Enter our 6th Annual "Book Inspired Brewing" competition to see how your beer stacks up.
Register by January 24. Beer submissions must be delivered by February 28.
Tour the inner workings of your favorite, local breweries at our Brewery Tours. Enjoy winning beers from past champions of the KDaLe Homebrew Contest at our Tap Takeover. And make sure to check out some of our favorite books and stories for beer-drinkers.
Don't forget to sign up for our KDaLe Quest. Attend KDaLe programs, visit our brewery partners and win prizes! Pick up your KDaLe Quest Guide at any KDL branch and begin working towards earning a KDaLe pint glass and chances at more prizes! All programs are for ages 21 and up.
KDL Vibes
Kent District Library is pleased to introduce KDL Vibes, a commercial-free streaming service that gives local musicians a platform to share their music and gives patrons a portal to all of the awesome music that these artists have to share. With the help of a team of curators, which is comprised of musicians and music advocates, KDL has built a collection of albums that represents all the awesome sounds of West Michigan. Musicians looking for more information or who have any questions can visit vibes.kdl.org/faq or email the team at vibes@kdl.org.
Winter Programs
KDL will be offering a combination of virtual and in-person winter programming! Visit our Events page for more information or view the Walker Branch events calendar.

Our featured Walker Branch event is Disappearance of Flight 2501! Thursday, January 13, 6:30 pm.

Our featured online event is Elementary Graphic Novel Book Club | Long Distance! Monday, January 10, 6:30 pm Suitable for School Age (ages 5-10) Register here If you love to read and discover new books, join us for a book discussion of Long Distance.
Standale Wreath Contest Winners
On behalf of the Walker Community Engagement Committee, 3rd Ward Commissioners Elaina Huizenga-Chase and Melanie Grooters presented Standale Home Studio with their first place trophy!
Riverbend Body Shop was the runner-up in their first time competing in the Standale Wreath Contest!
Friends of Walker Trails News
Are you following the Friends of Walker Trails on Facebook? Follow along for updates and news on our lengthy network of trails right here in Walker!