Muskegon’s elected member of the U.S. House of Representatives appeared at Muskegon’s city commission work session Monday night to explain the closure of his local district office in town.
Congressman Bill Huizenga appeared at the meeting with a staff member, as he makes a tour through his district after being sworn in late last week for his second two-year term.
Huizenga’s staff is in the process of closing the third of the three offices he opened during his first term, while relocating his staff into two new locations. His office in Cadillac was the first to close, then Muskegon’s office closed in fall of 2012. Currently, his office in Holland is in the process of moving to Grandville, while the Cadillac and Muskegon offices will be consolidated into Grand Haven.
Members of Congress receive what is called an MRA, or Members’ Representational Allowance, with covers travel expenses, office presence in one’s home district, utilities and costs of communicating with constituents, like mailings. These MRAs are increasingly crunched, and his office and their home district operations have reduced their expenses by 11% per year in his first two years in office, or “essentially 20% less than what Pete Hoekstra had at the end of his term,” said Huizenga.
With redistricting based off the 2010 Census, Michigan’s 2nd District now includes Lake, Oceana, Newaygo, Muskegon, Ottawa, a small portion of Kent county, and southern Mason county. Most of the district’s northern counties have been shifted to another district, including the city of Cadillac. Huizenga stated the new locations were picked as central to the new district lines, which have shifted south with the redistricting.
Huizenga stated that the new Grand Haven office would cost about the same as the Cadillac and Muskegon office rents, but only one set of utilities would need to be paid, and staff would incur fewer travel costs. He also stated that the Grandville office’s rent would be lower than the Holland office was over the past two years.