TRAVERSE CITY — City commissioners likely will focus on how to spend $2 million on streets and sidewalks when they begin discussion of a proposed $14.86 million general fund budget.
City officials will attempt to add the entire $750,000 voter-approved road millage atop the $1.25 million they have spent in recent years on street improvements. Mayor Michael Estes said commissioners will want to know how the staff plans to spend 60 percent more money and coordinate the extra activity when they meet Monday at 7 p.m. in the Governmental Center.
City Manager Jered Ottenwess said he’s working on ways now to reduce street work’s impact on residents.
“It’s a difficult position to be in because the city is investing significantly and that’s a positive, but the construction season in northern Michigan is short and it coincides with a short tourism season,” Ottenwess said.
Ottenwess proposes to double the amount spent on sidewalks to $200,000, which will add an additional half-mile of new sidewalk. The budget also proposes to increase funding for road maintenance and repair from about $400,000 to $750,000. Residents will see the impact of those increases during the current construction season but the additional money allocated for road reconstruction projects likely won’t occur until 2015, he said.
Ottenwess recommends all city tax rates and sewer and water fees remain the same for the next fiscal year that begins July 1. He predicts revenue will rise about 4 percent and proposes to make up the difference by drawing down the city’s over-size budget surplus by more than $590,000.
Estes said he would like to reduce the fund surplus even more, and plans to float the idea of a one-time taxpayer refund to the commission.
Ottenwess also wants to add three staff positions, including a person for the parks department because of the extra maintenance required for the troubled Clinch Park splash pad. The position will cost city taxpayers about $68,000 annually in wages, benefits, and taxes.