McLouth will take another shot at securing community center grant

by Dennis Sharkey
The city of McLouth will take another stab at obtaining a federal grant for a new community center.

Last year the city hired Donna Crawford to write and administrate a grant application for $400,000 to construct a new community center in Rose Park.

The application was submitted but when the dust settled the city did not make the cut.

Last week a public meeting was held and attended by Crawford and a handful of residents. Crawford gave a brief explanation about the process and said nothing is really changing from the application perspective.

Some of the same questions concerning the community center that were raised last year were raised again. Most notably, the residents wanted to know if their taxes would be increased.

Mayor Pro Tem Karl Abegg said city taxes will not increase. The city’s only involvement is to serve as a budget authority for the center.

Last year an inter local agreement between the city’s Recreation Commission and the city was put in place. The agreement calls for the Recreation Commission to supply all of the operating costs for the center. Essentially the city will serve as an address for the bills to be sent to.

“Future costs will be covered with the city being the funnel,” Abegg said. “For the city’s part there will be no tax increase at all.”

City Administrator Carl Chalfant said the city will have expense line items for the community center in the budget. But there will also be a revenue line item from the Recreation Commission to pay for the expenditures.

“It has to go throughout the budget process but it will come in as a revenue,” Chalfant said.

Some residents were still unsatisfied and believed their taxes would still go up because of the center. They claimed that the city may not raise taxes but the Recreation Commission may.

Commission member Dan Holwick assured the residents that the Recreation Commission brings in enough revenue to operate the building.

City Clerk Kim Perry said the Commission’s revenue has actually increased this year because of the liquor establishment tax.

The Recreation Commission also has $200,000 on hand to kick in for the project. Crawford said grants are awarded based on a point system and the cash contribution scores.

The city already has architect plans for the building which scores more points. Other projects the city has completed on their own such as the Safe Routes to School project on Cynthia Street also scores points.

Crawford said the city should know if a grant is awarded by late July but could know as soon as May. However, she cautioned that the competition for the grants will again be tough.

“It’s pretty tight,” she said. “Every point we can get is important.”

Obtaining the grant this year may also be important from a medium income perspective as well. The first time the city applied for a grant the city was just over the threshold when taking a low to moderate income survey. Last year the city came in just below the threshold which enhances the chances. Crawford said if the city does not get the grant, they may be forced to retake the survey.

The city council approved the necessary agreements and will contribute about $6,800 of labor towards the total project.

The deadline for apply for the grant is the end of this month.

In other actions:

• The council agreed to pay half of a $467 water bill for Glen Owens who owns a shop in downtown.

Owens claimed that his regular monthly bill is around $67, however, the bill jumped up for one month to $467.

Chalfant said the meter to his property was removed and replaced. The meter was tested and determined that nothing was wrong. A water leak test was also conducted on the property and came back negative.

“The water went through the meter,” Chalfant said. “I understand his frustration but I have nothing to offer him.”

Chalfant said about 45,000 gallons of water went through the meter.

Owens said he has no outside faucets and only a toilet and sink inside the building. He said rumors have spread around town that meters are not read correctly. He said up to this point he didn’t believe the rumors but may be changing his mind.

“I hear a lot of rumors about this stuff going on,” Owens said. “People not happy with their utility bills. I’m starting to believe some of the rumors. We need an answer for this.”

Councilwoman Barbara Hasemeier made the motion to pay half the bill for Owens but said the offer may be taken back off the table when Owens balked at the offer.

“I’m telling you we have a problem and if it was on my side I wouldn’t be telling you we have a problem,” Owens said. “The water didn’t run through my shop.”

Councilman Harlan Woodring did not support the motion and told Owens that the city has to pay for the water. He suggested that the city work out a payment plan for the water. Woodring told Owens that he is the only one that can solve the problem.

“You don’t have to pay the bill,” Woodring said. “But you’re not going to have your city services either.”

After the council voted to pay half the bill, Woodring gave them a warning.

“We’re setting a dangerous precedent,” Woodring said. “It’s just a matter of time before people come in and want their bills reduced.

“If you can do it for him you have to do it for other people,” Woodring added.

• Perry reported that the city’s insurance rates through Blue Cross and Blue Shield will decline slightly but dental costs will offset the decline with a slight increase.

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Posted by on Oct 18 2011. Filed under Government, McLouth, Municipalities. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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