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Ishpeming council watching bottom line

June 4, 2009
By JOHANNA BOYLE Journal Ishpeming Bureau

ISHPEMING - At a time when state revenue sharing has been cut and budgets are shrinking, members of the Ishpeming City Council are beginning to take a closer look at how funds are being spent.

At Wednesday's council meeting, Councilman John Stone voiced his concerns over how the city's capital improvement funds - which can cover everything from sidewalks to library books to equipment purchases - are being spent.

"We're buying things now because they're nice to have not because we need them," Stone said. "I want to be a good steward of the taxpayers' money."

Stone's comments were prompted by the council approving a purchase of new lawn mowers, one for the Parks and Recreation Department and one for the Cemetery Department.

The new mowers will replace two old ones, at a cost of $17,647 and $15,706. Department budgets include $15,000 for each of the mowers, with the excess coming from the city's forklift fund.

Stone said his concerns also included past purchases of equipment, such as new vehicles for the police and fire departments.

"We have to find different ways to do things," he said.

Councilman Pat Scanlon said he agreed with Stone's comments, but added that the council needs to be able to trust the recommendations of the city department heads.

"As a councilperson, I have to rely on the department head and their ability to tell me when something needs replacing," Scanlon said. "The biggest thing is the trust and responsibility that is placed on our department heads."

With incoming public works superintendent John Kangas, who is replacing the retiring Jim Bertucci, several council members suggested sitting down with Kangas and other new department heads to discuss the expectation of keeping costs down.

The various city departments have come up with about $40,000 in combined budget cuts for this year, City Manager Alan Bakalarski said.

In other action, the council:

The resolution was drafted based on a model resolution created by the state. The state has since changed the wording of one paragraph in the resolution and the city resolution had to be changed to reflect that.

The wording change has no effect on the application itself or the status of the OPRA district for the Mather Inn.



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