By Rosemary K. Otzman
The balanced general fund budget of $2,099,285 for the 2013-2014 fiscal year was approved Monday by the Belleville City Council on a 4-1 vote.
Twelve other funds were also approved as part of that budget.
But, Councilman Brian Blackburn, who also is a paid-per-call fire fighter, voted no, just after Fire Chief Brian Loranger’s last-minute plea for extra funds for dress uniforms for the fire fighters was not added to the budget.
City Manager Diana Kollmeyer said that the fire fighter salaries for the last quarter are not in the budget and if it’s more than $7,000, the city will have to take the funds from somewhere else in the budget.
Chief Loranger said that figure is higher than $7,000.
“Anything you change in that budget will affect your fund balance,” Kollmeyer said.
Chief Loranger said he didn’t realize that the budget was set to be approved that evening and he guesses he waited too long to mention the dress uniforms.
He said recently he was in the Sumpter Fest parade and sat next to Belleville Police Chief Gene Taylor in the convertible for parade marshals. They both had their dress uniforms on and, “It would have been a shame if I couldn’t have a dress uniform.”
He said each city department should look professional and “a ragtag bunch” of fire fighters is not good. He said dress uniforms have never been in the fire budget and it’s not fair to not have the money to provide the uniforms.
He said the fire department officers all have dress uniforms, but the fire fighters have a mixed lot, with different colors and pants with big pockets that should be dress pants.
Before the budgets were voted upon, the council held a public hearing that was one-minute long during which nobody spoke.
In other business at Monday’s meeting, the council:
• Approved amendments for the 2012-13 budget, which has a month left in it;
• Approved the 2013-14 fee schedule and learned there were no licensed masseuses in the city;
• Approved closing High Street from the corner of Grace Baptist Church to the Roys and High streets intersection from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on July 4 for the annual church picnic. Music Lakeside will also at Horizon Park on High Street that day, so High will be closed from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the Fourth of July;
• Approved Hennessey Engineers’ recommendation to accept the second-lowest bid of $151,786.75 from the Environmental Quality Company of Wayne for sanitary sewer cleaning and closed-circuit television investigation. There were four bidders and the low bidder had an error in its bid. An S2 grant is paying 90% of the cost;
• Approved accounts payable of $266,607.72 and the following departmental purchases in excess of $500: to Herkimer, $35,838 for portable radios for the fire department; to ICMA, $598.40 for annual dues, from the general fund; to Michigan Municipal League, $2,514 for dues and legal defense fund from the general fund; and to Time Emergency, $8,000 + shipping for protective clothing for the fire department;
• Heard City Manager Kollmeyer announce that residents now can pay at the counter with their credit or debit cards;
• Heard Councilwoman Kim Tindall give condolences to the family of Chuck Williams who was a member of the CERT team and did a lot of volunteer work with the animals at Friends of Michigan Animals Rescue. Tindall called him an asset to the community who will be missed;
• Heard Mayor Pro Tem Jack Loria ask about a mattress, box springs, and chest of drawers that has been at the curb on Robbe Street for several weeks. The city will see that it is picked up;
• Heard Councilman Brian Blackburn say he enjoyed the ribbon-cutting activities on Saturday for Belleville Martial Arts and he wished them good luck in business;
• Heard Councilman Tom Smith remind everyone about the Bach Wine party that will be held at his house and that of John Juriga on Friday to earn money for Music Lakeside;
• Heard Mayor Kerreen Conley thank Police Chief Taylor and City Manager Kollmeyer for addressing an ordinance issue and making a trip to court;
• Heard Mary Talaga ask about the “ugly, green building” at the corner of East Huron River Drive and Wexford that has a condemned sign on it. It was explained that the city may not be able to put a demolition lien on a building that has gone to the county for back taxes. DPS Director Keith Boc said he will check out some new legislation where you can assess any real property that the owner owns and a person could lose his current house over a building he walked away from; and
• Heard Chief Taylor say sirens are not the ultimate warning device, according to FEMA. Sirens are for people who are outside. He said phone carriers do have free alerts and people should check into their cell phone provider for these alerts. He said Weather Radios are good, too.
By Rosemary K. Otzman