Houghton approves city budget

HOUGHTON – The Houghton City Council approved a 2014-15 budget Wednesday in line with those of previous years.

The general fund budget is $3,244,282, 1.1 percent higher than the budget approved last June.

“I did not see the need to make any significant departures … from previous budgets,” City Manager Eric Waara said.

The city will levy 15 mills, unchanged from last year.

General fund contributions include $40,000 to the local street fund; $80,000 to public improvement; $150,000 to parking, which will pay some of the project costs for work this summer; and $94,357 to transit.

The local street fund includes $50,000 for paving, while the major street fund includes $15,000. Tax Increment Financing Authority projects include $24,000 for the Michaelson subdivision, as well as $47,000 for continued Huron Creek monitoring.

In the Downtown Development Authority, the biggest new budget item is $39,250 for work on city walkways on the parking deck behind the Douglass Agency. Waara said it was an obligation the city took on as part of the Douglass Agency’s facade project.

The Public Improvement Fund will contribute $105,000 towards the Central Houghton nature preserve area. Waara said the city is still waiting to hear on a grant application.

Water and sewer budgets did not change substantially, Waara said. Rates are not changing.

In other action, the council:

met as the Zoning Board of Appeals and approved a sign on The Yummy Bar, which had originally gone up without a permit. The circular sign is 38 inches wide, four more than allowed under city ordinance.

The council voted 5-1 in favor. Councilor Mike Needham, who had motioned for the issue to be tabled to work further with the owners, voted against approving the permit.

The council also approved a 120-day moratorium on any new non-conforming signs. Council members said the city will be revisiting the ordinance to possibly introduce more leeway.

approved the city’s capital improvement plan. Projects for the coming year include dock repair, a basketball court at Woodhaven, work on showers at Dee Stadium, dock upgrades and extending water service to a new Chevrolet dealership.

heard a report from Department of Public Works Supervisor Mark Zenner. The city’s new picnic tables have been installed. Crews are working on a water leak and patching blacktop. Weather conditions have slowed sweeping. The city’s trash collection center will have its final weekend until the fall. Crews will also fix collapsed sections of walkways at the Nara Nature Park.

heard a report from Police Chief John Donnelly. Since the previous meeting, there had been 103 complaints, 15 misdemeanor arrests, 14 civil infractions and two city infractions. Officers will be out for Bridgefest, including foot and bike patrols. Cars will be mostly barred from parking on Shelden Avenue during the Bridgefest parade Friday night. The exception will be the 600 block, which will be available for handicapped parking.

heard a downtown report from consultant Susie Landers. A new business will open in downtown on July 1. Another could open as soon as August.

met as the Rental Housing Board and approved a rental license at 608 Seventh Avenue.

set public hearings for a rental license at 407 Fairview Street and 1221 E. Houghton Avenue for June 25.

approved a grant administration agreement and third-party administrator management plan with the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region.