by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor
A public hearing was held on Monday, June 3 during the Owosso City Council meeting on improvements needed to the city of Owosso’s sanitary sewer collection system. The proposed project is seeking to improve current infrastructure to both meet requirements and increase the reliability of service. The five-year project is estimated at $4,917,400. It would be paid through user charges over a 20 year, low-interest (2 percent) loan and will include sanitary sewer and manhole improvements and the construction of a new 1,000,000-gallon retention basin. The basin would then handle sewer overflows in compliance with EGLE (formerly the DEQ). Over 18 years, the city has seen 21 Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs). Currently, 11 manholes and around 18,000 feet of sewers are in need of structural repair work – reducing sinkholes in roads, sewer backups and storm/groundwater infiltration into sewers.
Matt Kennedy of OHM Advisors, presented the project summary to the council on Monday evening. The plan would see the construction of the new, above ground retention basin on the south side of Beehler Street, in the northwest quadrant of Owosso. The public hearing allows the city to submit the plan to the MDEQ State Revolving Fund and represents the first step in the lengthy process. Current estimated costs for residents would be at $11.41 quarterly over the 20-year loan.
Other public hearings included amendments to the draft of the 2019-2021 budget proposal.
Owosso City Manager Nathan Henne shared in his project status report that 110 marijuana provisioning center applications have been received. The lottery is set for June 13. Four licenses will be granted. He also shared that Osburn Lakes Phase 1 lot sales has included the sale of nine of the city-owned lots. Construction is planned for this summer. The Owosso Skate Park is currently under construction, but with just over $14,000 in in-kind donations, the work crew is now able to expand some of the park’s features.
Consent agenda items included approval for the street closure for a 1980s style summer party through Pete Yerian, owner of Niche Bar on N. Washington Street. The event is planned for Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30. Salem Lutheran Church was also granted permission for a 5K Walk/Run event planned for Sunday, July 14.
Items of business led to the adoption of the proposed amended budget from the public hearing and approval of the MERS Hybrid Plan for Owosso Fire Department employees hired after May 1, 2019. This new contract with the International Assoc. of Fire Fighters/AFL-CIO Local 504, alters the pension plan for new hires. MERS is the Municipal Employee’s Retirement System.
A third item of business basically approved amending a section of the city ordinance to reflect new state guidelines regarding fireworks from December 2018. This Emergency Ordinance Amendment will be in effect prior to the July 4th holiday. The new state guidelines have drastically restricted the use of consumer fireworks under House Bill No. 5940, including a fine of $1,000 for each violation.
Marlene Webster, District 1 Shiawassee County Commissioner, was in attendance during the meeting. She shared that the county is seeking a new CFO and there are a number of board and commission openings available for interested persons. She also noted concerns related to the MERS system and the unfunded pension liability the commissioners are dealing with currently. The state may require them to replace the $458,000 removed from the 911-millage fund and given to MERS at the county level.
Owosso City Manager Nathan Henne shared with Webster and those in attendance that he is pleased that Webster is his commissioner, representing District 1. Eddie Urban, of Owosso, personally thanked council for mentioning veterans when considering the fireworks amendment.