Houghton city council approves budget

HOUGHTON – The Houghton city council approved a budget Wednesday night looking similar to last year’s.

The projected 2013-14 general fund budget is $3,208,900, an increase of 0.9 percent over last year.

“We’re dealing within the same amount of money we had last year, so we’re trying to stay within our budget,” said City Manager Scott MacInnes.

Where funds are available, one priority will be road paving in the city. MacInnes said there will also be maintenance work at Chutes & Ladders playground at Ray Kestner Waterfront Park and the docks as part of the public improvement fund. This year will also see the completion of work at the Lakeshore Avenue parking deck.

In Tax Increment Financing Authority spending, upgrades will be made on intersections on Sharon Avenue as part of the Safe Routes to School project.

In other action, the council:

approved an increase of city water rates to $3.44 per 100 cubic feet. The sewer rate will remain $6.54 per cubic feet.

approved the 2013-2019 capital improvement plan for the city. Plans include $7.2 million in main replacements in 2013-14 and 2016-17, funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development loan and grant, and $1.3 million for the Cedar Street extension in 2018-19, funded through the Michigan Department of Transportation and the major street fund.

approved equipment purchases of a loader, a new police vehicle and a pick-up truck. The estimated cost is $182,000.

approved the Local Development Financing Authority budget of $663,500.

heard an update from Department of Public Works Supervisor Mark Zenner on water and sewer work. Sewer is mostly done on South Avenue. Crews have started on water work on Sixth Avenue to South Avenue and Douglass Avenue. Sewer laterals are being put in on Edwards Avenue from Washington Street to Sixth Street.

heard a report from Police Chief John Donnelly. Since the previous meeting, there have been 202 complaints, 16 misdemeanor arrests, one felony arrest and 45 civil infractions, including tickets from the Click It or Ticket campaign.

heard a public works report from Zenner. Parts of the Nara Nature Park boardwalks were routed to avoid damage done as a result of spring flooding. Bases for three new city entrance signs have been put up. Crews are continuing to sweep city streets.

approved refinancing for two water bonds and one Portage Lake District Library bond. MacInnes said the refinancing would save the city $306,000. The city is also receiving an A-plus bond rating for Standard & Poor’s.

heard from MacInnes on the latest round of Michigan Economic Development Corp. facade grants. Four downtown businesses are included in this round: Frank A. Douglass Agency, Statewide Real Estate, The Blue Iris and the Joseph Daavettila office. The 75 percent grant package is worth $800,000.

met as the Zoning Board of Appeals and approved a side-yard variance at 218 East St.

approved giving Jan Juntunen of Yooper Yaks a one-year license to offer kayak rentals and stand-up paddleboards at the Ray Kestner Waterfront Park.

approved a vendor booth for Seafood Fest for Rick Allen for pre-sales of a commemorative FinnFest USA 2013 DVD. The council also approved the purchase of one of the DVDs.

approved a lot line correction at Portage Cove.

approved the transfer of .11 acres from Lot 49 of Bresnan Estates to Lot 51.

approved $275,265.34 in water and sewer work through the drawdown of funds through Rural Development.

set a Zoning Board of Appeals hearing for a variance at 405 W. Edwards for June 26.