By Pat Maurer
Following a Public Hearing Monday evening, the Clare City Commission unanimously approved 4-0 (Commissioner Tom Koch was not at the meeting) a budget for the coming year totaling $2,776,133.21 and approved a millage rate of 17.5 mills, the same as last year. There are also .75 mills voted for Parks and .75 mills for streets, making the total rate 19 mills.
The budget is up from the 2012-13 amended budget of $2,286,747.97. Treasurer Steven Kingsbury is forecasting $2.44 million for 2014-15; $2.49 million in fiscal year 2015-16; $2.56 million in 2016-17; and $2.61 million for fiscal year 2017-18.
Kingsbury told the Commission that the new budget is “structurally balanced.” In his report to the Commission he said, “…the Michigan Senate has included a 4.8 percent increase in the discretionary portion of revenue sharing payments in their proposed fiscal year 2013 budget.”
“If this increase remains,” he wrote, “…the City of Clare will receive $68,835, or an additional $3,153 in EVIP revenue sharing.”
The Commission also approved the Fee and Rate Schedule for the coming year. There will be increases in the cost of lawn bags; an increase in pool fill charges; in non-resident pavilion use fees; camping fees and a small increase in water and sewer rates.
All of the increases are geared toward covering city costs.
In another matter the board approved submitting a COPS grant application. If approved the grant would add $125,000 to the police budget and with an approximated $50,000 contribution from Clare Public Schools, would fund a full time liaison officer for Clare Public Schools for nine months of the year. The additional funds will not increase the police force, presently at seven full time officers, Chief Brian Gregory said. Without the funding, he added, there will only be funding for a liaison officer for about two hours per day.
In a report, Gregory said, “Unfortunately over the past several years, we have been restricted in our community policing/school related efforts. Due in part to continued revenue sharing cuts from the State of Michigan; we have been forced to reallocate our personnel out of the school system and back to traditional patrol functions. The COPS UHP grant [Department of Justice COPS Community Oriented Policing/School Resource Grant] would enable us to assign an officer to the schools 40 hours a week.”
He continued, “The grant if awarded will fund 75 percent of the cost for 36 months.”
Other business at the City Meeting Monday included:
*Approval of single lot assessments ($352) for mowing fees of two delinquent properties.
*First reading of proposed ordinance changes to make the building requirements the same as the International Building Codes.
*First Reading of a proposed zoning change on the south side of the city from Commercial to Multiple Residential.
*A closed session to discuss a labor agreement with the Teamsters Hourly employees.