OWOSSO CITY COUNCIL RETURNED to in-person meetings on Monday, March 15, though Zoom will remain available to the public. Council members in attendance included (from left) Janae Fear, Jerry Haber, Mayor Chris Eveleth, Mayor Pro Tem Sue Osika and Nick Pidek. Council member Rob Teich was connected via phone. Eveleth acknowledged it was nice to see everyone once again.
A number of items were approved during the meeting, including formalizing policy for Capital Asset Capitalization and Debt, acceptance of a Recreation Passport Grant toward funding for renovations of the Grove Holman Park pool building and authorizing submitting a grant application for Safe Route to School through MDOT.
The policy for Capital Assets (fixed assets), which was an informal policy beforehand, now determines that fixed assets are required to have a value of $10,000 or more, minus infrastructure, which is set at $50,000 or more.
The Debt policy was established to help augment the city credit rating. According to a memorandum from Owosso Finance Director, Cheryl Grice, “debt management policy should improve the quality of decisions, articulate policy goals, provide guidelines for the structure of debt issuance, and demonstrate a commitment to long term capital and financial planning.”
The city applied for the Recreation Passport Grant for the Grove Holman Park building in 2020. Owosso Parks and Rec is interested in renovating the structure, once part of the public pool facility, to use throughout the year for concessions, warming and restrooms – with plans to move the skating rink from Bentley Park to Grove Holman to adjoin the sledding hill. The grant is for $150,000 and will be matched with $50,000 in millage funds from Owosso Parks and Rec.
By applying for the Safe Routes School grant application through MDOT, the city of Owosso could potentially receive $600,000 in funding to develop means (infrastructure and non-infrastructure) to encourage more children to safely walk and bike to school. The city will have to contribute roughly $70,000 in engineering costs if the application is approved. The funding decision will be made by November with potential construction planned for spring of 2023.
Council also adopted the 2021-2027 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), formulated by the Owosso Planning Commission. The CIP has been in the works for a considerable period of time. The six-year plan serves as a tool for the city, outlining needs, finances and possible infrastructural improvements as sort of a goal-setting document for city staff and council members to utilize, with attention given to growth, development, financial stability and potential grant opportunities.
At the very end of the Monday evening meeting, after all agenda items had been finalized, council member Jerry Haber introduced giving a $1,000 bonus to Owosso Department of Public Works (DPW) employees who had acted as essential workers during the pandemic shut down. Haber offered that other city employees – such as public safety and city hall staff – had been given a bonus and he believed the DPW should be recognized, as well. There are 31 DPW employees that would be eligible. Council members briefly discussed the bonus money coming from the $56,000 received in marijuana taxes through the state, since it is an extra source of revenue and would not come from the budget. In an effort to maintain city protocol and public transparency, council member Janae Fear shared she thought the discussion on the bonus would be better addressed as an agenda item, ensuring a proper council vote. Haber seemingly agreed and those in attendance, decided to approach the item on the April meeting agenda.
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)