Morenci's 2011-12 budget proposed 05.04.2011

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

General fund spending is expected to rise by about $22,000 in Morenci’s proposed 2011-12 budget plan. A budget hearing is scheduled at the May 9 city council meeting.

No salary and wages increases are planned in the next fiscal year—other than those negotiated through union contract—due to declining state and local revenue. City administrator Renée Schroeder expects a drop in property tax revenue due to declining property values, and state-shared revenue is expected to fall by $70,000.

Gov. Rick Snyder has spoken of restoring part of the loss to communities that consolidate and share services, reduce the cost of employee benefits, and show greater transparency.

Schroeder said department heads have worked on collaborative efforts with other communities, but past efforts don’t count toward meeting the governor’s goals. Only those going forward will be considered.

Part of the revenue shortfall will be covered by transferring $40,000 in savings from the refuse collection fund, Schroeder said, to help cover the costs of brush collection and the recycling center.

She’s heard about several communities discontinuing curbside pick-up of brush.

Schroeder expected some savings in health care costs by increasing employee co-pay and deductibles, but that will be wiped out by federal health care changes and by the addition of some adult children to family coverage.

Among the budget highlights, Schroeder mentioned that cemetery spending will include the purchase of a computer and software to maintain grave owner and occupant records. Data now on paper must be transferred to the new computer records.

DPW spending includes the purchase of a camera to inspect sewer lines ($9,000) and a backhoe ($90,000), although a backhoe might be leased.

The budget lists $30,725 to sealcoat 4,000 feet of Coomer Street from the east city limits to North Street.

The parking lot rebuild project is included in total spending for 2011, but $543,000 of the nearly $640,000 cost comes from a state grant.

The police department will replace the in-car video systems ($12,500) and $7,500 is slated for the police sergeant’s pay should the chief be selected to participate in an FBI academy program for officers.

The Morenci Area EMS purchase of an ambulance will be covered by a $123,500 FEMA grant, with the exception of about $6,500.

The budget shows the city will contribute $90,000 to the library for wages and utilities and require a transfer of $6,139 from the library’s savings.

“We are still treading very cautiously,” Schroeder said, “but we have been able to build back cash reserves in order to plan for a few much-needed purchases while leaving savings balances intact.”

Following the budget hearing next week, council is expected to approve the spending plan at the regular May 23 meeting.

  • Front.sculpta
    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.
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    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.
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  • 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.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • 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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