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.

  • Homecoming Court
    HOMECOMING—One senior candidate will be chosen Morenci’s fall homecoming queen during half-time ceremonies Friday at the football field. In the back row are seniors Mikayla Price, who will be escorted by Mason Vaughn; Madison Bachman, escorted by Kiegan Merillat, and Mikayla Reinke, escorted by Griffin Grieder. Senior Ariana Roseman is absent from the photo. Her escort is Garrett Smith. In the front is sophomore Abbie White, who will be escorted by Ryder Price; junior Madysen Schmitz, escorted by Harley McCaskey and freshman Madison Keller, escorted by Jarett Cook.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in 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.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

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