City Considers Proposal for Low-Income Apartments, Marketing Tool Box and More

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 06/18/2013 - 02:54

Here is a brief recap of Monday’s Saline City Council meeting:

Low Income Apartment Proposal

Saline City Council is exploring a proposal would allow the prospective owner of Maple Heights Apartments to escape some property taxes in exchange for turning the complex into a low-to-moderate-income residential development.  Peter Potterpin is considering purchasing the apartment complex.  Potterpin is looking for a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) resolution from the city.  If the city adopted such a resolution, the owners could receive Michigan State Housing Developing Authority funds to help remodel the 48-unit complex. City tax collections would not be affected. But other local tax authorities could lose tax revenue as a result. The idea has some support from the majority of council, who see providing housing to low-income residents and families as a priority. Council members Lee Bourgoin and Jim Peters said they were opposed to the idea.

City to Give Away BeSaline.com Website

In the early stages of a joint marketing effort that also involves the school district, library, chamber of commerce and Saline Main Street, city council is prepared to give away its website, BeSaline.com. The website will be handed over to Saline Citizens for a Quality Community, an umbrella organization that is composed of members of various local organizations.  Breathing new life into BeSaline.com, a local events website that also spotlights business from time to time, is part of a “Promote Saline” campaign that will also provide local organizations and businesses with a marketing tool kit that leaders hope will get people “singing from the same song book.”

The first phase of this project is expected to cost about $5,000, with the city, library, and school district splitting the tab.  Future phases of the project include some sort of public relations and updated content for the website. Such work might be bid out to a public relations or marketing firm, and be funded by display advertising on the website.

Sgt. Kevin Murphy Honored

Retired Saline Police Department Sgt. Kevin Murphy, who worked with the SPD for nearly 28 years, was honored by Mayor Brian Marl, Police Chief Larry Hrinik and City Council.

Council Goes Behind Closed Doors

At 7:38 p.m., city council adjourned into closed session to discuss the city attorney’s opinion on a legal issue. City council also conducted City Manager Todd Campbell’s evaluation. City council returned to open session at 8:28 p.m.

Upon returning, City council voted 7-0 to give the mayor, city manager and attorney authority to settle the legal dispute over the Department of Public Works facility’s roof, which is in need of costly repair.

Council Proceeds With Wastewater Treatment Plant Project

Council approved several motions related to the upcoming  $1.4 million wastewater treatment plant project. Several of the motions were required to receive an MDEQ grant that will be used to offset the design cost for several components of the project.

Wages Frozen for All But One City Staffer

City council approved salaries for non-union staff. Wages were frozen for all but one city staffer. Kathy Corfman, the city’s new Business Ambassador, was bumped from $51,446 to $54,598. City Manager Campbell, at $106,976 is the highest paid staff member. Gary Roubal, the city’s superintendent, is the second highest paid, at $103,392. DPW Director Jeff Fordice, at $94,179, ranks third.

Strategic Plan Adopted

Saline City Council adopted the Strategic Plan for 2014. The plan includes the following goals

·         Promote a vibrant downtown

·         Maintain financial stability

·         Build community spirit and civic engagement

·         Improve communication

·         Be a sustainable city

·         Enhance quality of life

·         Upgrade infrastructure

·         Intensify economic development opportunities

New Streetlights Will Be Installed

Council approved a contract with DTE Energy to convert 122 streetlights to LED lighting. The project will cost the city about $50,000 up front. The city should receive a $7,500 rebate. DPW director Jeff Fordice estimated the annual savings at $13,000 and said the project should pay for itself in three years and four months.

A 2011 conversion of 57 mercury vapor lights saves the city about $5,600 annually.

Council Schedules Townhalls, Prepares Fact Sheet, Press Release

In an effort to engage the public about the recent property tax increase, the factors that led to it, and future actions, Saline City Council has scheduled two townhall meetings and is honing a fact sheet and press release that will be distributed. The first townhall will take place from 8 to 9:30 a.m. July 25 at Saline City Hall. The second takes place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Aug. 6 at the senior center.

Residents Needed for Arts and Culture Committee

Council member Linda TerHaar reported there are two vacancies on the city’s arts and culture committee. Anyone interested in filling the positions can call Nancy Byers or contact city hall. Residents must live within the school district.

Poor Video Quality An Issue

Council Member Jim Roth said the Cable Commission has heard complaints about the quality of video of City Council meetings recorded at city hall. Roth said there appears to be corrosion in some of the wires. Taking a question from Councilor Bourgoin, Roth said that the city needs to look into whether the city is getting its fair share of the funding from the cable agreement.  There have been several complaints that the school district is getting more than it should.

Fun at Rentschler Farm

Council member Jim Peters said the Rentschler Farm Museum is open and that the garden is beautiful this time of year.

Report Coming on Saline Recreation/Community Ed Proposal

Mayor Marl a group studying the proposal to consolidate Saline Recreation with the school district’s Community Ed Department will meet again Wednesday. Marl said he expects it will be the final meeting before a final report is prepared. Marl said the city council and school board would likely be called for a joint meeting in July. Meanwhile, Marl said, a city task force continues to look a host of options for the Rec Center. Marl said there are new ideas about memberships, expanded hours and partnerships with the school district.

CQC offers Retreat for City Council, School Board and Other Organizations

Council member Rhoads said the Citizens for a Quality Community is offering a two-day stay at the Michindoh Conference Center as a retreat for members of city council, city staff, school board, school administration, and officials from the library, Main Street and the chamber of commerce. CQC already had Michindoh booked for the Saline Leadership Institute. However, since SLI is on a one-year hiatus, and CQC could not get a refund, the community organization is offering the retreat Oct. 17-18.

Closed Session

Council member Roth expressed concern about lengthy closed sessions being held at the start of meetings.  He said council shouldn’t make the public sit in an empty council chamber for an hour and might consider going into closed session at the end of the meetings instead. Mayor Marl said he prefers to handle complex issues early in the meetings, when he’s a little more alert. Council was split on the issue.

Business Summit

The City of Saline is hosting a Business Summit June 28 at Stone Arch. The summit designed for executives from the industrial park. Representatives from Ann Arbor SPARK and the MEDC have been invited. A summit for small business is planned for the fall.

Tran Longmoore's picture
Tran Longmoore
Tran Longmoore is a veteran community journalist. He is founder and owner of TheSalinePost.com. He is co-publisher of The Saline Post weekly newspaper. Email him at [email protected] or call him at 734-272-6294.

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