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.