By Rosemary K. Otzman
It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it turned into a nightmare for the Belleville City Council on Monday.
The clever plan was to just recess the June 2 meeting, rather than adjourn it, and start it up again on June 16 as the June 2 date.
That was because there were still questions about figures in the proposed 2014-15 budget and the law requires that the budget be approved at the first meeting in June.
Mayor Kerreen Conley said on June 2 that it would be no problem and they had done it before to technically comply with the law.
But, on June 16, the budget item was placed at the bottom of the agenda and it was way after the public hearing on the S-2 Wastewater System Improvements Grant.
The public hearing was scheduled for June 16 and there was a legal secretary typing notes into her device on what was said. She was reporting that this was all happening on June 16, because it was, but the minutes of the meeting would say June 2.
Councilman Tom Fielder started questioning the dates once the 30-minute public hearing closed.
The engineers from Hennessey Engineers, who had been preparing the sanitary sewer project plan to go to the DNR for a grant for over a year, agreed it would be a problem and, “The DNR would nail it.”
Then, there was a bit of confusion at the council table and proposals about what to do.
The council opted to move the budget up to the top of the agenda and approve it and then adjourn the June 2 meeting.
But there still were problems with the numbers in the budget and so that discussion went on another half hour.
“I don’t see an answer coming very soon and we’ve got to adopt the budget,” said Mayor Conley. She suggested amending a line item and bringing it back for amendments.
“We know it’s wrong, but adopt it as presented,” Mayor Conley said.
Councilwoman Kim Tindall made the motion to adopt the budget as presented and Councilman Tom Fielder seconded the motion, which was unanimously adopted.
Then, at 8:32 p.m., the June 2 meeting was finally adjourned and the June 16 meeting started.
To make the public hearing right for the grant application, the public hearing opened again at 8:33 p.m. and a motion was passed to accept the previous presentation and comments at the June 2 meeting into the record of the public hearing at the June 16 meeting.
The legal secretary was a good sport about all the meetings and the turning on and off of her recording machine. After the second public hearing she was able to leave.
City Manager Diana Kollmeyer said she searched through the city records and could find no record of the city recessing a meeting before or how to handle it.
In other business at the meeting with two dates, the council:
• Heard Wayne Mayor Al Haidous introduce himself and announce he was a Democratic candidate for Wayne County Commissioner, to fill the seat being vacated by Kevin McNamara, who is running for county executive. Councilman Fielder said he has known Haidous for many years and is endorsing him for commissioner;
• Noted they couldn’t approve any minutes of the June 2 meeting because it wasn’t over until that evening;
• Postponed consideration of Brian Copsey’s request to have a Beer Garden open on the Fourth Street Square from from 5 to 9 p.m. every Monday from June 2 to Sept. 29 during the car shows. Copsey couldn’t wait for his spot on the agenda since everything was taking so long, so he left to get back to the Bayou Grill;
• Approved applying for a S-2 Wastewater System Improvement Grant and approved naming Keith Tackett of Hennessey Engineers as the designated Street Administrator for the city of Belleville. The estimated cost to users for the proposed 20-year loan will be about $517,000, which is about $2.39 per month, per customer in the city. The project will extend the life of the existing sewer system. Copies of the plan detailing the proposed projects are available at City Hall for inspection;
• Approved the recommendation of the Cemetery Advisory Committee to allow benches with foundations to be placed within Hillside Cemetery with the recommendation of the administration;
• Heard Kathie Steigerwald propose granite benches to be placed in city parks around the lake in memory of people who were cremated and don’t have graves. Mayor Conley said this was not on the agenda and there should be more information before bringing it to the council. Fielder suggested Steigerwald go to the Parks Commission first and she said she would; and
• Approved amendments to the 2013-14 budgets after telling Kelly Howey, the new bookkeeper from Plante Moran, that they like the amendments done in another more-detailed way. “We’ve always seen line items for every nickel and dime,” said Councilwoman Kim Tindall.
By Rosemary K. Otzman