ISHPEMING - The Ishpeming City Council has taken its final steps to approve two bond issues to make improvements throughout the city.
Approved in a single motion at Wednesday's regular meeting, the first bond issue was requested through the city's Downtown Development Authority for $2.275 million to fund recreational improvements in the Hematite Heights property, infrastructure along U.S. 41 and improvements in the downtown area such as entry features on U.S. 41, sidewalk reconstruction and improvements to the site that currently houses the former JC Penney building.
The $2.275 million bond will be paid back through the DDA budget, and will not increase millage rates.
The second bond issue, $700,000, will go to help provide matching funds for grants the city is seeking to help fund the diversion of Partridge Creek. The bond will be repaid through the city's public improvement fund.
"We're going to be doing sewer lines, we're going to be helping Partridge Creek funding. It's exactly what this was set up for and we're finally going to see something for the money that's being withheld from taxes for our TIF district," said Mayor Pat Scanlon.
The motion to approve the bond resolution passed unanimously.
The council also voted to extend a tentative agreement to the city's supervisory union, which the city has been in contract negotiations with since last year. City Manager Jered Ottenwess said the terms of the agreement were similar to the increases negotiated for other city union staff. The council also went into closed session to discuss negotiations with the city's police union, but did not take action on that issue.
In other action, the city voted to allow city staff to begin exploring the possibility of a special millage for the five townships that are also served by the city's library. Due to changes in how the state funds libraries, the funding for the library is provided mostly by the city even though the city's population represents half of the library's total patrons. Millages for each of the five townships would allow funding to be more equally spread amongst its users.
The city had been exploring the idea of having a district library for the west end of the county along with the city of Negaunee and the surrounding townships, however Ishpeming library director Cindy Mack said there were more concerns than positives with the concept.
Keeping both the Negaunee and Ishpeming libraries open with the district library concept would have meant a budget of more than $500,000 to provide basic services and additional services to the townships, Mack said.
Mack was given permission by the council to continue talking with the townships to explore setting up a dedicated millage in each of the townships, coming to around .7 mills for each township. Mack said she was not looking for a millage from the city at this point.
In other action, the council approved a complete streets policy for the city, which incorporates looking at all types of transportation - vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and others - when designing new developments or redoing streets. Having the policy in place could make the city more competitive in terms of securing grant funding.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is email@example.com.