Coming federal cuts worry Clare City, local residents
By Pat Maurer
Clare City Treasurer Steven Kingsbury spoke to the City Commission Monday evening about the past, and the coming Federal Cuts and the diversion of revenue sharing into other state general fund programs.
He referenced a Michigan Municipal League report that said, “…in the last decade the legislature has failed to invest in cities by diverting over four billion dollars in revenue sharing to other state general fund programs. This combined with property tax declines, has resulted in the fiscal uncertainty faced by many of our communities. We’ve lost thousands of public safety officers since September of 2001 and 46 percent of Michigan’s college graduates are leaving the state in search of place” … and looking for jobs…
Kingsbury also cited a Detroit Free Press article about the general public’s discontent with basic infrastructure within Michigan, which “demonstrates the correlation between the reduced revenue sharing and the public’s growing discontent with basic police, fire and other services and the conditions of local roadways.”
In his report to the board, he said, “As of the writing of this report, no compromise has been reached in Washington and most reports indicate that action to avoid the automatic spending cuts is unlikely.”
According to another Free Press article, Crain’s “Detroit Business,” “The White House says Michigan faces about $140 million in losses…including $67.7 million in gross pay to 10,000 civilian Defense Department employees in Michigan and $42.2 million to K-12 and disability education programs in the state. Another $7.4 million will come from environmental funding and fish and wildlife protection; $1.7 million will be deleted from fund for job search assistance, referral and placement; and more than $3.8 million will come from substance abuse treatment and public health emergency preparedness. Senior nutrition is also slated to $1.8 million for meals for the elderly and Law Enforcement will lose $482,000 in Justice Assistance Grants.
An updated article February 26 says the federal spending cuts probably won’t hit “state government for a month, and the potential consequences are largely unknown,” according to Michigan Budget Director John Nixon.
In a related matter, City Manager Ken Hibl said in his report to the board, that due to recent state legislation, specifically the S2 portion of the Michigan Revolving Loan Fund Program, and a change in the eligibility criteria with the Economic Development Agency (EDA), “we may be eligible for great grant opportunities” for a “potential northern industrial park and our Sanitary Sewer Pump Station #5 Project.” He said the recent changes “may allow us to receive a 90 percent grant for planning and engineering design for the station and all of the engineering design costs for a new 60-acre industrial park for the City.”
He also said, “Recent discussions with the EDA indicate we may be eligible for 60 percent grant funding for the entire infrastructure in a new industrial park (including a new water tower created inside the park).”
He said the grant applications will be submitted and if the city is approved the council can then decide if they want to proceed with the project.
Commissioner Tom Koch cautioned, “We are a long ways away from being able to afford this. It would almost be a disaster to receive a grant at this point. A lot would have to change before we would be able to afford this.”
Hibl also said the Planning Commission will meet March 12 to consider a proposed site plan for the new soccer complex at the south end of the city. “Approval of the site plan is a key element to the Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant application for development of the complex.”
He also reported that the city would not be getting a grant to move the railroad depot to its new location. “We just didn’t have enough of a local match,” he said.
Finally he reported that “the State may try and add $1.5 billion gas tax increase for roads in a special May election.
Other business at the Clare City meeting Monday included:
* The approval on an amendment to the Recreation Master Plan adding the proposed new community soccer complex project. The addition is needed before the community can apply for a Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant in April.
*The presentation of Life Saving Pins to Reserve Police Officer Mick Defoy and Clare Police Officers Steven Sentz “for their courageous, lifesaving actions February 17.” They were dispatched to the Lone Pine Motel for a “man down and not breathing.” The officers did CPR and revived the victim.
*Approval of a resolution required by the Michigan Department of Transportation before MDOT-controlled highways can be closed for special events.
*Approval to amend the city budget and add funds to purchase a used bucket truck for $15,995 to replace a 1987 truck.