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.