Saline City Council has reached a budget compromise that includes the addition of two new administrative positions in city government - a deputy police chief and a human resources manager.
A month ago, neither position was in the budget. Council had agreed on spending $65,000 for a human resources consultant. But a week ago, council suddenly shifted gears and agreed the city immediately needed a deputy police chief. The four members of council who had been pressing for a human resources manager decided to press harder and the $65,000 HR consultant was bumped up to a full-time employee that would cost around $105,000 in next year's budget. The deputy chief, pegged to start Aug. 1, would cost around $108,000.
City Treasurer Mickie Jo Bennett said the latest iteration of the budget leaves the city with an estimated surplus of $68,000.
During the regular meeting, council voted to set a June 1 public hearing for the general appropriations act. Council also voted to direct staff to use a millage rate of 17.2294 mills for the 2020-21 budget.
In other news:
A hike in water and sewer bills is coming starting in June as the city funds work on its infrastructure. Rather than pay for the work strictly using rates, which would have cost the average user about $50 a quarter, council is going to bond for the work. The average quarterly increase will be about $6.80. Council is borrowing about $1 million work on the drinking water system and $2.4 million for sewer improvements, including improvements to the eastbelt trunkline.
Council voted 5-1 to approve the Salt Spring Park project agreement with the Michigan DNR, which has agreed to fund half the $150,000 cost for building a parking lot and walkway to the nature preserve. Councillor Jim Dell'Orco voted no. Dell'Orco was concerned about investing money in a project close to the wastewater treatment plant, which could be expanded in the coming years.
Council voted 5-1 to approve a one-year agreement allowing Brecon Grille to use Leather Bucket Alley for outdoor seating. Councillor Janet Dillon voted no, once again stating that the city-owned property should be open for public use. Brecon Grille owner Paul Geragosian had been seeking a five-year term with automatic renewals.
Council awarded construction engineering services for the Keveling and River Oaks paving projects to Midwestern Consulting for no more than $19,226.
Council elected once again to pay for fire services out of its general fund instead of the voter-approved special assessment. The city's share of the cost is $471,180.
Council approved the purchase of a new phone system from IVS Communications for $25,080.
Mayor Brian Marl left the meeting early to attend to a private matter.
Tran Longmoore is a veteran community journalist. He is founder and owner of TheSalinePost.com. He is co-publisher of The Saline Post weekly newspaper. Email him at [email protected] or call him at 734-272-6294.