Morenci city council 2011.09.21

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

State Senator Bruce Caswell visited the Sept. 12 Morenci city council meeting and the news he brought wasn’t all good.

Caswell told council about Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to eliminate the state personal property tax—paid by businesses on equipment ranging from machinery to computers.

Without a means of replacement, communities would be forced to slash services or shift the tax burden to residents.

Morenci city clerk/administrator Renée Schroeder said the city would lose about $122,000 annually if the proposal were to become law.

Schroeder understands that the move would benefit businesses, but she worries the effect in city government.

“Municipalities’ general account funds are already hurting from the reduction  of statutory revenue funding over the past few years,” she said.

Caswell also talked about a change in the delivery of statutory funding. The new Economic Vitality Incentive Program would limit state funding until a community  meets several requirements, including transparency of records, the consolidation of services and reductions in employee compensation.

Once the requirements are met, full funding would be given.

Caswell told council that Morenci will lose his representation in Lansing next year. Redistricting measures will return Lenawee County to a district to the east with Monroe County.

SIDEWALKS—Morenci mayor Keith Pennington urged residents with sidewalks damaged from fallen trees to have them repaired before winter. Snow cover could hide the problem areas and make walking dangerous.

Information about the city’s financial contribution is available at city hall.

SUBSTATION—Councilor Greg Braun spoke about a proposal from Consumers Energy to replace Morenci’s substation. The existing substation would be dismantled after a new one was constructed on former Parker Chemical land east of Mill Street.

The upgrade would improve reliability and allow for expansion.

“The proximity to the existing location would make for easy planning,” Pennington said, “but looking into the future, would it make more sense to place it near the industrial park?”

No matter what location is finally chosen, the mayor is happy with the project.

“We’re very pleased that Consumers is looking to invest in the community,” he said. “We think it will be a huge benefit to the city.”

PARKING LOT—Pennington said completion of the new parking area along North Street will probably not be completed this year because an easement has still not been completed with owners of the Pizza Box and the Morenci Area Historical Society.

Pennington said that property owners are pushing for a plan that would reduce parking from 17 to 11 spaces and use public funds on private property. Another meeting with property owners is planned Friday.

Council discussed a problem at Milestones caused by the parking lot project and also the wall of the Observer building following demolition of the Dunbar Auction House. 

At a committee meeting Monday, council will discuss removing or covering up the plaster remaining on the Observer wall, determining whether it’s the city’s responsibility or the owners of the Observer.

FESTIVAL—Bill Foster and Dale Long have volunteered to serve as co-directors of the Town and Country Festival. Both have been part of the festival committee.

OFFICER—Council voted to hire Eric Adams, formerly with the Adrian Police Department, to serve as a part-time officer for Morenci. He is familiar with the community through past EMS service, said police chief Larry Weeks.

The chief said the department’s other part-time officers are putting in hours in other communities that pay a higher wage and he’s having difficulty filling empty time slots.

  • 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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