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.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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Shadow.salon
    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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