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.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.grieders
    ONE-TWO PUNCH—Morenci’s Griffin Grieder saved his best for last, running his fastest time ever in the 110-meter high hurdles at the state finals Saturday in Grand Rapids to finish first in the state in Div. IV. His brother Luke, a junior (right), claimed the state runner-up spot. Bulldog junior Bailee Dominique placed seventh in the 100-meter dash.
  • Front.sidewalk
    MORENCI senior class president Mikayla Price leads the way Sunday afternoon from the Church of the Nazarene to the United Methodist Church for the baccalaureate ceremony. Later in the day, 39 members of the senior class received diplomas in the high school gymnasium.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • 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.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

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