by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor
The next Owosso City Council meeting is planned for Monday, June 1 and will be another in the series of virtual meetings held online due to COVID-19. During the online council meeting held Monday, May 18, a public hearing was held to discuss the 2020-21 proposed budget. No citizens spoke during the meeting. The proposed budget is now up for adoption at the upcoming Monday evening meeting.
Council previously held a virtual budget workshop on Tuesday, May 12 to discuss a draft of the recommended budget. The draft is available for public review in the online packet for that meeting at www.ci.owosso.mi.us. City staff began the budget process in February 2020.
The executive summary included in the draft and provided by Owosso City Manager Nathan Henne, explains how the “coronavirus (COVID-19) situation has presented the City of Owosso with significant challenges in preparation of the budget.” Henne explained in the draft and during recent meetings that the budget will likely have to be amended after it is adopted to reflect “unknown future events.” Municipal budget amendments are common.
During the Monday, May 18 meeting, Henne said revenue sharing “will be a constantly moving topic until the state shut down ends.” With so many issues in-flux at the state level due to the pandemic, it is not clear how much revenue will be distributed to local governments, so some reductions are already being recognized.
Citizen commentary included Owosso resident Michael Erfourth expressing his frustration with an ongoing Consumers Energy project in his front yard on Oliver Street. Erfourth stated he has had no communication with them on the project and is particularly upset over possible damage to a large tree on his property. He thinks the city is at least partially accountable for helping him see that his property is fixed correctly since the city had authorized the work.
Council member Nick Pidek shared he understands where Erfourth is coming from after his own issues with Consumers Energy when the organization was completing work downtown.
Amendments to the Personnel Policy Manual were also highlighted during the meeting. Council member Janae Fear brought up defining gender and sexual identification harassment information within the policy manual going forward. She requested “specific language” be created to prevent any form of future harassment issues. The Personnel Policy Manual is a guidebook for city employees. Council member Nick Pidek verbally supported Fear’s idea. Alterations to the Personnel Policy Manuel were approved by council and will now include amendments against sexual orientation/sexual identity biases.