Morenci's proposed budget 5.7

Written by David Green.

Morenci’s proposed budget for the 2008-09 fiscal year shows an increase in spending of only about two percent as city council works toward improving the financial status of city government.

“I have a feeling we’re recovering from our deficits,” said city administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder, “but there’s still a lot of work to do.”

Last year’s spending plan included staff cuts as council struggled to work its way out of the red. Savings in various areas could lead to rehiring one employee on a full-time basis.

The budget proposal calls for spending of $2,287,680—an increase of $47,000 from last year—but Schroeder pointed out this is just a proposal and additional adjustments must be made before the public presentation of the budget at Monday’s city council meeting.

The proposed police department budget would bring officer Frank Cordts back to full-time status and include the purchase of a new patrol car ($19,000).

The budget also includes buying two in-car laptop computers at a cost of $10,800, but a grant sought county-wide might cover part of this cost.

At the library, the director job will become a full-time position, but without benefits other than retirement. The budget calls for $60,000 from the city and $12,866 from the library’s savings.

A $500 expense for dog license software should pay for itself in the first year, Schroeder said. Currently city hall staff write about 300 licenses by hand every year. The new system would maintain all records in a computer and will tie into the county’s records.

Spending in the public works department includes no major equipment needs, however, a line striper will be bought for $2,000 rather than borrowing the equipment.

Water towers need periodic inspecting ($4,400), three park shelter houses need re-roofing ($9,300), the L-shaped parking lot east of city hall needs new pavement ($26,300) and the city’s portion of Weston Road needs paving ($10,500).

Morenci, Seneca and Medina are each considering a 10 percent increase in assessments for the Morenci Area EMS service. An annual increase of no more than 10 percent is permitted, but this would be the first increase since the service was organized.

The EMS advisory board is seeking computer upgrades ($5,000) and heart monitors ($5,000).

Discussion continues over proposed changes in the health insurance coverage for city employees. The co-pay for prescription drugs would increase from $30 to $50 for brand-name drugs and remain at $15 for generics. The change, if accepted by union members, would save an estimated $6,000 annually.

Three full-time employees have opted out of the city’s insurance plan due to coverage by a spouse. This saved the city more than $8,700 in the current year, Schroeder said, and this would likely increase as medical insurance costs continue to grow.

Schroeder noted that the Whitman Crossing apartment complex added about $15,000 to the city’s property tax revenue. Overall, property tax revenue across all classes is expected to increase by 2.3 percent, according to the city assessor.

Schroeder and other city officials throughout the state are awaiting the outcome of a State Senate vote May 13 on state revenue sharing. The House has already passed a proposed 4.0 percent increase.

County officials will meet with Sen. Cameron Brown next week to plead their case for the increase.

In one final note of positive news, Schroeder said the loan payment for the industrial park will be paid off this year, ending an annual expense of more than $53,000.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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