Morenci city council 2013.08.07

Posted in 2013 August

By DAVID GREEN

The City of Morenci received a strong response to an advertisement last month regarding a new department of public works employee. Fifty-seven people applied for the full-time position.

The candidate list was narrowed to five people who were interviewed July 29 and 31. The hiring committee will make a recommendation to council for the Aug. 12 meeting.

RECYCLING—Maybe Morenci's recycling center has a second life ahead of it. City administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder told city council July 22 that her continuing discussion with the Lenawee County Solid Waste Committee has led to the possibility of funding the operation of the Morenci center. 

Representatives from the county group visited the Morenci center and were impressed with the operation. If the city provided the building, she said, perhaps the county would pay to operate the center.

County commissioners and city council would both have to approve of the plan if the committee follows through with a proposal.

REHAB—Mayor Keith Pennington continued a discussion from previous meetings about the creation of a Commercial Rehabilitation Program. The program would prevent a tax increase due to the improvement of commercial property. The program is similar to a tax abatement offered to an industry.

Council would have the option of freezing the taxable value of property for up to 10 years, which would cause a loss of potential tax revenue to the city, although the school district would be exempt from the loss. 

The abatement could cover improvements including equipment, structural support, and interior and exterior improvements.

One of two Commercial Rehabilitation districts would encompass downtown buildings to Bean Creek and another would cover the commercial district on the east edge of town, bounded on the west by Silver Creek.

LIBRARY—Stair Public Library director Colleen Leddy sought council's approval in renewing the terms for board members Lois Speed, Kathy Schiermyer and Sandy Emmons. Council member Rebecca Berger immediately suggested tabling the issue because the Finance and Legal committee is working on changing the library ordinance to align with state law.

Council members voted 6-1 to table the issue, with Tracy Schell voting "no" because she wanted to discuss the matter. The mayor pointed out that no discussion is allowed on a motion to table.

One of the changes that could be made to the library ordinance involves the way in which board members are chosen. By aligning with state law, the mayor would recommend board members for council's approval. Currently, the board makes recommendations to city council.

Leddy said that it would be good to have people experienced with library issues on the board while discussing changes with council.

“During this time when we’re going over the ordinance and state law, it seems like it would be better to have people who are experienced working through the issues and looking at the ramifications of the changes made,” she said, “so we’re not confronted with those things with people who don’t know the history of how the library operates.”

Pennington said the three board members would continue in their role until other action is taken regardless of when their term expires.

SKELTONS—Morenci police chief Larry Weeks spoke to council's legal and finance committee about the costs incurred from the continuing Skelton brothers investigation. He expressed concern about spending more than authorized by council. 

Committee member Tracy Schell said that unexpected costs can arise in any department. Mayor Pennington told Weeks to spend what's needed. Other budget adjustments can be made, he said, perhaps from the contingency fund.

SAFETY—Weeks told the committee about a federal school safety grant that would have to be administered through the city. Weeks spoke with school superintendent Michael McAran about investing in a closed-circuit television system. The grant would provide up to $20,000, but Weeks had not yet learned of a cost estimate.

"I don't know if you have the time to do it," council member Tracy Schell said.

Weeks responded that the system would provide quality data and could prevent problems from occurring at the school.

The request will go the city council for a vote on the application.

REACT—During the regular council meeting, Chief Weeks said that in his opinion, it's not in the city’s best interest to have Maple City React members serve as the security force for the Town and Country Festival. He thinks council should discuss the matter before next year's festival.

Festival committee member Ron Apger said he wasn't aware of any problems with the React team and he thinks it's important that they're able to respond to a need quickly since they're stationed in the park.

"The police can't replace the security we have now," Apger said.

COPIER—Council approved a new lease for a photocopy/scan/fax machine costing $522 a month. The new lease is expected to save the city somewhere between $50 and $100 a month, depending on the number of color copies made.

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