Morenci city budget hearing set 2012.05.09

Written by David Green.

An updated website, some new equipment and street and sidewalk work are on the docket for Morenci’s 2012-13 budget.

City officials are working through the final touches of the spending plan before presenting a proposed budget at the May 14 council meeting.

Budget workshops went well this year, said city administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder, as season council members worked with some newer members.

“There are some items that are not discretionary such as expenses related to utilities, insurance, licensing,  etc., and from the revenue side, property taxes, state-shared revenue and weight and gas taxes coming in to the street funds,” she said. “But as local governmental planners, voted in by the public, the mayor and council have taken a long, hard look—after many late-night meetings—at discretionary spending where they can and do make choices.”

As of Monday, projected revenue was up some from the current year due to the conservative outlook on state revenue taken for last year’s budget. Revenue came in better than expected, Schroeder said, but now she’s faced with the prospect of a state proposal to eliminate the personal property tax.

The budget includes $5,000 for a new and friendlier website, said Schroeder. A revamped design will make it easier for city employees to update and present information, she said, and it should be easier for residents to use.

The sidewalk upgrade plan moves on to the west side of Page Street for the next fiscal year. Proposed road work includes resurfacing the city’s portion of Weston Road just north of Main Street, resurfacing Whitney Avenue, and seal cracking Main Street west of the stoplight.

DPW spending includes the purchase of a new backhoe for $90,000 with a five-year financing plan. A new dump truck will also be purchased, with the city paying one-half of the cost ($65,000).

Maintenance at the EMS building is planned (the former hospital clinic building) and city hall will be spruced up with exterior painting and new awnings. A new telephone system will be installed in all city buildings at a cost of about $10,000.

Tree cutting is proposed at the cemetery and funds are designated for additional part-time officers at the police department. The police budget also includes money for Chief Larry Weeks to attend an FBI Academy program.

The library’s computers will be added to the city’s maintenance plan at a cost of $1,000.

The fire department plans to upgrade radios to comply with FCC narrowband requirements and update licenses for a total cost of about $10,000.

Water tower maintenance is expected to cost $40,000 and casing vents on water wells will cost $3,200. 

On the revenue side, the city might attempt to sell some property at the former Morenci Area Hospital for building lots.

Fire protection contacts with three townships increased by 2.9 percent to match the Consumer Price Index.

Two police officers began paying 20 percent of health care insurance costs in January in accord with new state law. Five other employees will join in in July when their current contracts expire. The change won’t affect DPW workers until April 2014.

  • 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.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.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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