The binders that held their proposed budgets were three inches thick, but East Jordan City Commissioners carefully examined individual items, looking for places to cut.
By 9 p.m. Tuesday, they had made it about half-way through. Commissioners questioned the increase in the police budget from approximately $378,000 last year to $422,000 proposed for this year. City administrator Bob Anderson explained that increases in insurance and gas costs, and equipment needs accounted for the increase. The commission directed Anderson to find further areas to cut within the police budget.
The fire department's $131,248 budget includes a salary for a part-time fire chief. Commissioner Thomas Breakey requested separate line items for uniforms and turn out gear because the gear is so expense that when it is purchased, it leaves nothing for uniforms. The proposed amount for both is $4,000. Breakey did not request an increase, but a separate allocation.
Commissioner Russ Peck questioned the zero sum allotted for education and travel for commissioners.
"It's not very beneficial for our community to not meet with our legislators when other communities are doing so," Peck said.
"It is in the citizens of East Jordan's best interest to have an informed and educated city commission. I think it would be a mistake to cut that back to zero," city attorney Scott Beatty said.
"They're not coming to East Jordan to talk to us," parks director Tom Cannon said, and explained that he believes East Jordan would not have won the waterway grants it has been awarded if he hadn't been going to Lansing to meet with legislators.
The commission changed the proposed amount for education and travel from zero to $2,500.
Future changes to insurance for city employees were also discussed.
Anderson said that the city employees' policies through Blue Cross/Blue Shield are estimated to go up eight to nine percent next year and in subsequent years. Increasing the amount employees pay toward their own insurance, or limiting insurance coverage to the employee but not their family members were proposed as possible cost-saving measures. However, these items are not up for debate right now, as the city is obligated to honor its current contracts with employees.
Three thousand dollars allocated for improvements to the boat launch were debated. Cannon said that he believed improvements to the boat launch will help promote tourism, and would be an investment for the city. Because of the late hour, the commissioners scheduled a meeting to continue discussion on the budget for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 10.
In other news, East Jordan High School students Dustin Hejka and Brandon Hastert addressed the commission to request improvements to the East Jordan Skate Park, including the installation of additional equipment. Dustin and Brandon suggested holding a skate competition during the Freedom Festival to help pay for the cost of equipment. Both students said they would be willing to volunteer to help a city committee plan such an event. Mayor Timmons suggested that Dustin and Brandon attend the next planning meeting of the Freedom Festival Committee on March 14 to explore the possibility of planning a fundraising event.
Parks director Tom Cannon said that he has met with representatives of the East Jordan Rotary, which maintains the park, to discuss improvements Brandon has requested at previous city commission meetings, and suggested the students contact the Rotary Club regarding the matter. Cannon also suggested submitting a grant to the Charlevoix Community Foundation to fund additional improvements.
The commission reviewed the annual report of delinquent bills, and scheduled a public hearing for March 15 at 6:30 p.m.
Dale Boehm has been appointed East Jordan Police Chief, after the conclusion of a candidate search. Boehm has been serving as interim police chief since the resignation of Dan Reece.
An ordinance to repeal East Jordan's ban on carrying concealed weapons was introduced. Beatty said that East Jordan's ban could not pre-empt state law, which allows for the carrying of concealed weapons except in specified locations such churches and schools.
Beatty also advised the commission to establish a policy regarding medical marijuana land uses, and proposed a resolution to impose a moratorium on any such land uses until a policy can be recommended by the planning commission, which the commissioners adopted.
The commission approved a request from Floyd Wright to rezone the property at 117 Lake Street from I-industrial to C-1 light commercial.
Mike Burr asked the commission to reevaluate the water bill at the Esterly Street location recently purchased by the Crossroads organization which provides a food bank and other services to the needy. Commissioners agreed to consider the matter when they establish water and sewer rates.
For more information, contact city hall at 536-3381.
East Jordan City Commissioners look for more to cut from the budget
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