Morenci city council.2 5.14

Written by David Green.

No one from the public had any comment at a public hearing for the proposed 2008-09 city budget.

The spending plan calls for an increase of about $47,000 from a year ago, or about a two percent rise.

The general fund budget is expected to produce a contingency fund of $60,000 which will cover the $32,780 deficit shown in the audit for the year ending June 30, 2007.

“The changes we made were difficult, but they worked,” said council member Tracy Schell about personnel cuts made last year. “I’m glad to be moving in the other direction.”

Councilor Keith Pennington said the budget anticipates growth in real and personal property taxes of $19,000. The city will save about $12,000 through the change made in liability insurance coverage.

Pennington noted that significant cuts were made in two departments a year ago. Library funding was reduced by $10,000 last year and $5,000 will be restored this year.

Police department funding was also trimmed last year and a full-time officer was scaled back to part-time. The new budget calls for Frank Cordts to return to full-time duty. Money will also be set aside to help fund the expected purchase of a new patrol car in 2009.

Fire department funding will also be partially restored after cuts made a year ago.

LIBRARY—Council voted to hire Colleen Leddy as library director pending final approval of contract details. Director Elizabeth Stella will retire in June.

EMS—Council voted 6-1 to increase the EMS assessment by $7.50 a household to $82.50, as requested by the Morenci Area EMS board. The EMS agreement signed by the city and Medina and Seneca townships allows for an increase of up to 10 percent annually, however, this is the first increase since the service began.

Schell stated she was opposed to the motion because money will be placed in a contingency fund for use if needed.

Pennington said the board intends to put money aside each year and eventually purchase a new ambulance.

“But it’s not being placed in an equipment fund,” Schell said.

City administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder said it’s her understanding that the contingency fund is for a new ambulance.

CONFIDENTIAL—Council voted to accept a confidentiality agreement with ProMedica, owner of the former hospital and clinic buildings.

Pennington explained the agreement this way: Anything Promedica is discussing with council cannot be disclosed to the public. If any action was needed by council, that would be taken in an open meeting.

Mayor Doug Erskin said agreements such as this are common in the business world when “delicate information” should be kept confidential.

DONATION—Fire chief Chad Schisler told council about a $12,000 donation for the purchase of a Polaris Ranger 6x6 all-terrain vehicle.

The vehicle would be fitted for use in combatting field fires and could also assist  an EMS crew in rough terrain. The department is seeking donations for a trailer that could be used with the unit.

POLICE—With a part-time police officer obtaining a full-time job in the Michigan Center area, council hired a new part-time officer to take his place. Tera Cox from Michigan Center will join the Morenci department.

MEETING CHANGE—The next council meeting, when the budget will be up for approval, is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 19. The regularly scheduled meeting would have fallen on Memorial Day.

  • 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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