At the Feb. 10 regular meeting of the Pentwater Village Council, village Manager Chris Brown and Village Clerk/Treasurer Rande Listerman presented a draft of the 2020-2021 budget for council review.
The draft summarized the budget process, as prescribed under P.A.2, the Budget and Accounting Act, identified the various funds and departments of the village, laid out the history of the village’s tax millage, and estimated anticipated revenues and expenses for the various funds. The draft presented will be further revised prior to Feb. 18, when copies will be made available for review in the village clerk’s office and on the village website.
Trustee Michelle Angell-Powell praised the finance team, saying that they “knock it out of the park” with their professional and detailed presentation of information and the ongoing efforts to save money for the village taxpayers. A public hearing for the 2020-2021 Budget will be at the March 9th regular council meeting at 6:30 p.m.
Brown reported that he had recently attended the State of Ludington Breakfast and was inspired with the updates on businesses, schools, housing and government. He would like to see a State of Pentwater event in the summer when residents return. He also indicated that an estimated $30 million in damage to public infrastructure has been caused by high water in the state, not including damage to residential properties. He is continuing to stay up-to-date on high water issues and available funding resources.
In addition, Brown told the council that, in light of recent notification of higher premiums, he is increasing the deductibles for the village’s insurance policy to save money. It has been more than five years since the village has had a claim, and the increased deductibles will pay for themselves in two years of premium savings.
Work on the Friendship Center is underway and steady progress is expected now that the trades are on site. In conjunction with this work, Angell-Powell reported that the building and grounds committee has proposed to the Pentwater Township Board that the center be a joint Community Center going forward. This fulfills the requests from the community that the village and township work together. Angell-Powell and Trustee Jared Griffis were to present the proposal to the township board at its meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 6 p.m., and trustees and residents are encouraged to attend and comment. Village President Jeff Hodges reminded village residents that all of them are also township residents.
Zoning Administrator Keith Edwards advised the council that the village and township planning commissions are also working together to organize a Master Plan Steering Committee to discuss scheduling, budget and process for the plan. The two commissions also attended Master Plan Training by the Michigan Association of Planning. Edwards further provided a report on 2019 zoning permits, stating that 44 zoning permits were issued, of which 10 were residential additions, nine were accessory buildings and six were new homes. The remaining permits were for decks, fences, two home demolitions and three miscellaneous improvements. This was an increase of 31 percent over 2018.
The Planning/Economic Development Committee lacked a quorum at its meeting this month, but Trustee Claudia Ressell-Hodan indicated that six people attended the meeting and expressed their willingness to serve as a planning and economic development working group. A request was made to Brown that he consider how this should be structured and make a recommendation back to the committee and council.
On behalf of the services committee, Trustee Don Palmer stated that Brown and Listerman had presented the committee with a spreadsheet on fund balances for the street projects. He noted that there remains $423,000 left for road resurfacing. The committee will meet again on Friday, Feb. 14 at 5:30 p.m. to discuss utility rates and receive recommendations for the amount rates should be increased, and how the increases should be distributed.
In other business, the council approved the following:
• Transfers in and transfers out of Fund #496 and 497, at the request of the village auditors.
• Permission for Mason County to provide emergency notifications to village residents and visitors with respect to any failure of the upper reservoir of the Ludington Pumped Storage Project.
• The election of officers by the fire department.
• A resolution approving a vacation of a portion of the Second Street right-of-way between Hancock and Division streets, subject to the applicant’s agreement to assume all cost of the construction of a new bicycle rack, manicured parking area and the cost of future maintenance and upkeep of this area and the rack. It includes painting, repair and grounds maintenance for the life of the area and rack. Palmer voted “no” on the vacation because, as a matter of principal, he does not endorse the give-away of village property. However, in this case, he acknowledged that positive improvements were being made. Trustee Dan Nugent abstained as he is one of the property owners seeking the approval.
• Authority for Brown to seek bids for forest management, timber cutting and timber sales on certain properties owned by the village off Oceana Street and near Lansing Avenue.