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.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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    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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