By Rosemary K. Otzman
Not all the figures are in place so the Belleville City Council was unable to approve the proposed budgets for 2014-15 at the first meeting in June, as required by law.
So it didn’t adjourn the meeting on Monday. It was recessed.
The council will continue the meeting of June 2 when it sits down for its previously scheduled second meeting of the month – on June 16.
Then, it can reopen the June 2 meeting and approve the budget.
Mayor Kerreen Conley said the council has done this before to technically comply with the law.
No one on the council objected.
Mayor Conley said they still have some tweaking to do to the budget, including incorporating the Downtown Development Authority budget which was approved by the DDA on May 21.
Also, Councilwoman Kim Tindall had asked some questions for which the Plante Moran consultants are gathering the answers. And, the subcommittee that was to meet with the police department, just met earlier that evening.
“We’ll get a final budget submitted by next Monday,” Conley said, adding the council members can look it over and then adopt a budget on June 16.
The general fund budget has $2,095,585 in expenditures and $2,085,399 in revenues.
Conley said they are not looking to replace DPS Director Keith Boc, who retired, but to keep both part-time people they hired because of the positive feedback on their work. She said they will try to work out getting more hours for one of the two, Keith Tackett.
Fire Chief Brian Loranger said he still would like to see a raise in salary for fire fighters.
“You said minimum wage was just a start,” he said, referring to the fire fighters getting a raise to minimum wage last year.
Mayor Conley said that is a negotiation item, since the fire fighters had an affirmative vote recently to organize a fire fighters’ union.
Conley said the fire department, police department, and administrative staff have been six years without a salary increase and health care costs have risen.
She said the city doesn’t have the luxury of raising salaries today
Chief Loranger said he has been on the Belleville Fire Department for 25 years and when he leaves he will get nothing.
In other business at Monday’s meeting, the council:
• Was asked by Mayor Conley to set aside July 16 at 6:30 p.m. for a joint meeting of the planning commission, Downtown Development Authority, and the council to consider the new sign ordinance. This will be after the regular DDA meeting, which starts at 6 p.m.;
• Approved a request from Pryde Athletics for a Kids 5K run at 8 a.m., Saturday, June 21, on the running paths at Village Park, ending around noon;
• Discussed the Bayou Grill’s request to hold an outdoor Beer Garden on the Fourth Street Square from 5 to 9 p.m. each Monday from July 14 to Sept. 29 in conjunction with the Car Show on Main Street. The mayor asked Brian Copsey to get more detailed plans and a drawing of where exactly he wants to put his 14’x14’ fenced off Beer Garden on the square. This is expected to be back on the agenda June 16;
• Encouraged Wendy Howell to get her Republican candidate for Congress, Terry Bowman, into the Strawberry Festival parade, rather than setting up a meet and greet at Victory Park on June 14, the Saturday of the festival. After the parade they may move to the park to do a program on Flag Day and do patriotic speeches;
• Approved the following reappointments made by the mayor to boards and commissions: Lawrence Gallo to the Board of Review with a term to expire Dec. 31, 2016; Toni Clark and Mary Ann Chudzinski to the Cemetery Advisory Committee with terms to expire Dec. 31, 2017; Sabrina Richardson-Williams and Rosemary Loria to the DDA with terms to expire Dec. 31, 2017; Betty Kurczewski to the Parks and Recreation Commission, with a term to expire Dec. 31, 2016; and Steve Jones and John Juriga to the Planning Commission, with terms to expire Dec. 31, 2016;
• Approved the three-year dispatch and lockup agreement with Van Buren Township, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2014 through Dec. 31, 2016. Cost is $154,336 for 2014 (6% increase), $160,509 for 2015 (4% increase), and $166,929 for 2016 (4% increase);
• Approved allowing employees to use a vacation day for the Friday after Christmas this year to get themselves a four-day weekend. Everyone except police and fire will get Thursday (Christmas) through Sunday off under this agreement;
• Approved accounts payable of $154,283.39 and purchases in excess of $500: to Herkimer, $500 for maintenance fees (fire); to P&W Paging, $932.75 for pager replacement (fire); to Time Emergency, $5,034.80 for turnout gear replacement (fire); and to Valentine Tree Service, $2,100 for tree removal in the cemetery;
• Heard Victoria Commons Homeowner Association vice president Brian Blackburn deliver a list of concerns about grass mowing, the deteriorating bridge over the twin lakes, sewage smell at the ponds, and deteriorating curbs at driveways; and
• Heard Mike Renaud ask if the new budget has any payment for the $7 million in unfunded liabilities for pensions and healthcare? He was told it didn’t. City Manager Diana Kollmeyer said she has signed a promise to the state that the city will make an attempt to do that.
By Rosemary K. Otzman