Morenci city council 05.26.10

Written by David Green.

Morenci city council conducted two public hearings Monday night prior to the regular meeting.

The annual budget hearing drew no comments from the public while the parking lot rebuild plan (ICE grant) did result in some discussion.

Scott Merillat of Associated Engineers pointed out a few refinements from the original parking lot proposal that council first discussed in February.

Merillat described changes in the approaches to some parking areas and a walkway on the north side of the main parking lots, behind the businesses.

A sidewalk could also be added along the south side of Baker Street, he said. The best placement, he said, would be right next to the curb because of the limited amount of space in front of some residences.

Mayor Keith Pennington suggested that council might exchange the cost of installing the sidewalks for obtaining an easement for the walk from property owners.

David Sallows, who lives on Baker Street, expressed dissatisfaction with the location of Dumpsters for businesses to use. He suggested moving them north closer to the Eagles. Merillat said he would look at the possibility.

Merillat said if sufficient funds are available, the recycling center drive would also be repaved.

Pennington cautioned residents not to expect to see work begin soon because the city is still waiting to hear back from the state historical preservation agency. When state funds are used for demolition, a review is required.

“We’ll get done what we can this year,” Pennington said.


The public had no questions about the city’s 2010-11 budget, but there was discussion among council members.

Councilor Tracy Schell asked about the change in the general fund contingency account compared to an earlier proposal, noting a large decrease.

Greg Braun explained that some items increased and others went down. The largest change came in proposed library spending due to the addition of health insurance benefits to library director Colleen Leddy.

The finance committee recommended that when the contract comes due, Pennington said, that health insurance benefits be given to the library director.

He added that perhaps the best time to discuss the issue is when salaries are reviewed in July.

“But it would be difficult to make a change if funds were not in the budget,” he said. “If council decided against offering that, council could move the funds back to the contingency fund.”

Schell noted that the library is still being asked to contribute money to the general fund, and now the proposal is to add an expense more than double that amount.

She suggested waiting until funds are no longer needed from the library and then consider the issue.

Council member Leasa Slocum said the library director is the only full-time staff member not receiving health insurance, and money is now available in the budget.

“I think that would be a wonderful thing to offer once we’re in a position where we don’t have to ask the library for money,” Schell said.

Councilor Jason Cook asked for information about salary raises for city employees. All department heads are receiving a 1.5 percent increase, he was told, except for city administrator Renée Schroeder who is to receive three percent. Union employees will also receive three percent increases.

• Additional city council news will be reported in next week’s Observer.

  • 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.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • 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.

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