RC to hold public meeting on budget

ROGERS CITY – In its latest budget for the upcoming fiscal year, Rogers City plans to raise taxes by one mill to repair its roads.

City of Rogers City Council members voted to set a public hearing for the budget on May 20 at 7 p.m., the same day to which their second meeting of the month was rescheduled. The budget balances at $1,856,590 in revenues and an equal amount in expenses, with $15,349 being appropriated from the general fund balance.

Both Mayor Beach Hall and city council member Gary Nowak praised the the process behind putting the city’s new budget together. Hall said the meetings during which city staff and officials discussed the financial situation the city faces went well, with Nowak saying he thought the previous meeting was “one of the best I’ve ever been to.”

Before council members approved the public hearing date, they heard from Theresa Heinzel, a city resident who attended the meeting. She had some concerns about the city’s plan to raise taxes for road repairs. While she supported the plan, she wondered how much it would bring in, and if part of the levy would go to the city’s Downtown Development Authority.

City Manager Mark Slown said the tax is estimated to bring in about $73,000 annually, and that some of it would go to the DDA. However, city officials took this into account when planning the budget, and made up for the amount going to the DDA with general fund money.

Heinzel said any debt the city took on through a bond issue and paid off with the millage wouldn’t be subject to the same rules. Nowak said city officials will meet to discuss other options of how to go about using the money to fix streets.

“I agree that we should look into bonding, because $70,000 is going to do nothing,” he said.

While Heinzel said she supported the one-mill increase, which city council can do without putting it to voters first, she was adamant that the money only be used for road repairs.

“If you’re going to dedicate it (to roads), then there cannot be any so-called ’emergencies’ to use that money,” she said. “It can go to nothing but street work.”

The city has struggled with keeping its roads in good shape, Slown has said in the past. It takes in just enough to do basic maintenance and keep the roads plowed and swept. Once that’s done there’s nothing left for bigger projects.

While city council can raise taxes by one mill without asking voters, its members are hoping to hear from city residents about the plan, Slown said in the past. They’ll have another chance at the budget public hearing, and can contact city hall in the meantime.

The budget also includes a $2.26-per-month increase in water rates for residential customers, and others for commercial customers.

In other business:

  • city council members approved the location of the Calcite Centennial monument, a cement block wall featuring tiles made by Rogers City Elementary School students. Anne Belanger, who is heading the project, explained it will be built near the band shell near the marina.
  • city council members decided to table a property tax exemption plan as they questioned where they should set the cutoff for personal income and assets. City council member Deb Greene wondered if they should put it at $16,500 for a household of one, which is 150 percent of the federal poverty rate for a household of that size.
  • city council members accepted a grant from the Department of Natural Resources to plant $3,000 worth of trees.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.