Saline City Council met Wednesday night. Here’s a brief synopsis of what took place.
Councillor Dean Girbach ran the meetings in the absence of Mayor Brian Marl and Mayor ProTem Linda Terhaar, who are traveling with Councillor Jack Ceo in the United Kingdom as Salinians visit their peers in our sister city, Brecon, Wales. The meeting was held Wednesday because there was a lack of quorum Monday.
The work session to discuss the budgets for the police department and parks and recreation department was heled even though council lacked quorum. Councillor Heidi McClelland was absent from the work meeting but attended the regular meeting, which began at 7 p.m.
Council heard details about the proposed $2,244,000 Saline Police Department budget from Police Chief Jerrod Hart. That total is nearly $200,000 more than the budget for the current year. And the current year’s spending is nearly $200,000 more than the previous budget. In all the ask represents an increase of about $350,000 in two years. The main driver of the increased cost this year is a request for an additional full-time employee. The extra hours could give the department more time for investigations. Hart said it should also give the department a buffer to prevent overtime in the cases of unexpected absences. Additionally, the department is expecting a mass exodus in the coming years as veteran police officers hit their retirement age. Hart said an additional officer could help with the transition.
Parks and Rec Director Carla Scruggs detailed a $2,294,000 budget – down about $140,000 from the current year’s budget. The operating budget includes a $25,000 contribution from the city’s general fund – down $125,000 from two years ago. However, the city is programing that $125,000 to pay down the rec bond fund. The city is expecting $850,000 in Rec Center membership fees to hold steady next year.
Council voted 4-0 to approve Saline Community Church’s request to host a Party in the Park at Canterbury Park May 31, June 28, July 26 and then Aug. 17-18. The events will include cookouts and a food truck at the August event, games, petting zoos and more.
Council voted 4-0 to approve a landscaping agreement with A&H Lawn Service, which is providing free service to maintain islands on Michigan Avenue. Now, A&H Lawn Service will also provide free service to maintain the planters at the four corners in downtown Saline.
Council voted 4-0 to approve a request to close Hall Street for a community event.
Council learned the filters installed during a $3 million improvement at the wastewater treatment plant are malfunctioning again. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has been notified, according to Steve Wyzgoski, superintendent of the city’s water and wastewater plants. “We’re meeting our permit as long as we’re working on the issue,” Wygoski told council. Council said the Nova, manufacturer of the filters, is working on a solution.
The city’s wastewater odor abatement project is nearing completion. A new south side lift station is online. Councillor Christen Mitchell, who works downtown, said she’s noticed an improvement in the odor situation.
Wyzgoski told council that new booster pumps in the city’s drinking water plants are operational and that the water has softened. He said there are plans to replace equipment in the reverse osmosis system.
Wyzgoski updated council on the discovering of Perfluorinated and polyfluorinated alkyl substances found in Saline. The former Ford Motor Company site in Saline has confirmed PFAS-contaminated groundwater and is a probably source of PFOS found in the Saline River. Wygoski said that while the contaminants were found, the groundwater is far from Saline’s wells – found on the northeast side. In addition, the groundwater appears to be traveling south and south east. Lastly, Wyzgoski said, the city uses reverse osmosis – which is used to treat PFAS in drinking water. For more, click here.
City council talked about Bonnie Armbruster’s request for a fence behind the wastewater treatment plant, to shield the “eyesore” from the people who live nearby. Council is expected to discuss the issue again a week from Monday.
City council talked about water and sewer rates that are expected to rise 5 to 8 percent each of the next few years. The rate hikes are due to infrastructure improvements.
Chief Hart talked to council about the federal court decision chalking tires an illegal form of parking enforcement. As of now, the Saline Police Department is not enforcing the parking limits in the city lots. Hart said the decision could be overruled – but that it might take years. There are devices with GPS technology that can be used – but they’re expensive at about $3,500. The city only writes about $1,200 worth of tickets each year. Hart urged citizens to voluntarily heed the parking rules for the sake of the downtown businesses and the local economy.
At the request of Councillor Janet Dillon, council briefly discussed farmers markets and flea markets. Recently, Tractor Supply Company held a farmers market. Baker’s Nook has organized a similar event. Dillon asked if council needed to rein in this markets, which she said could be competing with the Saline Farmers Market. Councillor Christen Mitchell said she would like to know if there were potential safety issues or zoning issues. Councillor McClelland said while she would like events to take place safely, she didn’t see the need for council to regulate “every little thing.” Councillor Girbach asked how these events would differ from a garage sale, in terms of regulation. Council will discuss the issue at its next meeting.
At the request of Dillon, council briefly discussed whether or not the council needed rules to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. The City of Monroe has passed such an ordinance. The Michigan Senate approved legislation banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. Councillor Dillon said the city’s substance abuse task force would be in favor of a local ban. Councillor McClelland said she’d be content to late the state provide the law. Council may discuss the issue at a future meeting.
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.