Council approves budget

ESCANABA – Escanaba’s $28 million budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year was unanimously approved by the city council during Thursday’s regular meeting.

The nod of approval came after the fifth and final public hearing on the budget proposal, one of the first items on Thursday’s agenda.

Two residents encouraged the city to continue to financially support the library. City Manager Jim O’Toole explained the city has budgeted $371,000 for the library – a $6,000 increase compared to the current budget.

Council member Pat Baribeau encouraged citizens to talk to county commissioners about the county cutting funding for the library. The city would like the county to contribute $50,000 because people from throughout the county use the facility, she said.

“The city of Escanaba should not have to pick up all of the costs,” Baribeau commented.

Escanaba’s general fund budget totals $7.66 million for day-to-day operations. Basic components include utility rate hikes of 2 percent for both water and wastewater customers and a pay raise for administrators of up to 2 percent.

Council set June 2 as the date for the second readings, public hearings, and adoption of several budget ordinances including utility rates.

The budget includes no rate increases for garbage or electric customers. As in past years, the electric fund will provide financial support to the general fund with a $463,624 transfer of monies.

In addition to personnel costs, other upcoming major budget items include $1.4 million on road improvements, two police cars, two public works trucks, a sludge-hauling truck, $366,242 worth of pole replacements, and $124,334 worth of street light replacements.

Thursday’s budget approval also established the city’s millage rate at the same 17 mills. The tax levy and budget appropriations are scheduled to be approved at Monday’s special council meeting.

Council is also expected to receive on Monday an amended proposal from public safety regarding an ordinance limiting fireworks within the city to specific times of the year as required by state law.

In other business, council approved chemical purchases for the water and wastewater plants. An update was presented on the city’s recycling awareness program.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143,