“Citizens of Traverse City overwhelmingly supported this millage and they didn’t support it so we could divert it somewhere else,” Richardson said. “Maybe we have to store it up until we can use it, but there are plenty of things that need to be done.”
Commissioner Gary Howe said the commission needs to honor voters’ desire to see value added to the streets.
“I think there is a limit of capacity of doing projects and getting them done,” Howe said. “I want to know how much could we realistically spend on sidewalks and not overextend ourselves too much.”
Ottenwess said he’ll also seek other general direction from commissioners as he drafts his first budget for Traverse City. He’ll begin the budget process with a goal of maintaining the status quo, but will ask commissioners if there are any city services they want beefed up.
The budget discussion should give city residents an idea of which direction commissioners plan to take following years of austerity measures and an improving economy. Commissioners will need to address whether they intend to continue past failed efforts to trim their hefty fund balance or take a more aggressive stance to reduce the surplus.
“The city has been in a great spot for the last decade financially,” Howe said. “It’s not like we have room to be reckless, but we are healthy as far as financials.”