Mount Pleasant renews downtown Christmas light program, proclaims support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month
A resident accused the Mount Pleasant City Commission of failing to meet its task of governing the city at a meeting on Sept. 25.
In a 4-2 vote, the commission approved adjustments and the setting of payment terms for the Downtown Special Assessment District. The proposal originally appeared at a July 10 meeting but failed. The assessment sets a fee for downtown businesses based on square footage for development and beautification projects.
During a public hearing before the vote, two residents opposed the measure and one supported it. The commission also received three letters in opposition.
Janelle Joslin, a downtown property owner, said beautification projects are nice but don't contribute to the success of the area or her business.
"It doesn’t really matter how beautiful a downtown is if I can’t afford to rent my building," Joslin said, adding that she can't afford to pay her mortgage with the rent she earns.
She said half of the budget is used to pay staff wages and questioned the necessity of some employees. She added that real solutions need to be considered to improve downtown.
"If our current board and committee members are not up to the task than new ones need to be appointed," Joslin said. "What (commissioners) have done doesn't work and it's just more of the same."
The adjustments were proposed because six downtown businesses include residential sections exempt from the payments. The changes will ensure the assessment raises the same amount in funds as last year. The rate was changed from 21.9 cents to 22.1 cents per square foot.
Commissioners Jim Holton and Lori Gillis voted against the motion.
Commissioner Tony Kulick supported the motion and commented on downtown improvements.
"With all the complaining we have heard about what this money is being used for and how downtown isn't as pretty as we would like," he said, "just think of what we would have if we didn't have this money to work with."
In a 5-1 vote, Commissioners approved the use of $10,000 of the Tax Increment Finance Authority’s reserves to fund the city’s light curtain program. The funding was originally proposed for approval at the July 10 meeting, however, the motion failed.
The program began last year to place lights on the trees downtown. The city splits the cost of the lights with property owners.
Holton voted against the new motion.
Mount Pleasant Mayor Kathy Ling proclaimed the city's support of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and presented an honorary certificate to Women’s Aid Service, Inc.
Ling made the formal proclamation in response to the 319 reported domestic abuse incidents made in Isabella County in 2015, she said.
“Domestic abuse violates an individual’s privacy, dignity, security and humanity,” Ling said, adding the city and its residents handle domestic abuse cases as a local priority.
Ling presented the certificate acknowledging the month to Women’s Aid Service, Inc. to encourage survivors of domestic violence and their relatives to seek out proper services and means of assistance.
“The city of Mount Pleasant wishes to recognize the efforts of those who work to prevent domestic abuse,” Ling said.
The month will create more opportunities to educate on domestic violence and the resources available to those affected, Ling said.
Women’s Aid Service is a nonprofit organization serving Clare, Gratiot and Isabella counties. Its services include a 24-hour help line, safety planning assistance for those exiting abusive relationships, emergency shelters in each three counties, legal advocacy counseling and immediate sexual assault services.
Also at the meeting, commissioners announced their five picks for the Fall 2017 Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe 2 percent funding requests.
Assistant Finance Director Chris Saladine gave a presentation on the proposed 2018 operating budget. The commission also met for a brief work session to discuss a potential ordinance requiring residents to shovel sidewalks in front of their property.
Other items the commission took action on include:
- Approved a contract with Block Electric of $23,500 for electrical repairs to the Island Park north restroom facility.
- Approved a contract with Mead & Hunt Inc. of $29,317.98 for the design, bidding and contract administration for slope clearing and light improvements at the Mount Pleasant Municipal Airport.
- Approved a purchase-buyback deal with Krapohl Ford & Lincoln for $36,625. The city will purchase a 2018 Ford F-150, which will be bought back by Krapohl for $36,400 after one year of use.
- Authorized Mayor Kathy Ling and the city clerk to sign a contract with Bud Percha Painting for $7,384, and a separate contract with the Mount Pleasant Area Community Foundation to paint the High Street Bridge abutments and pump house.
- Approved $7,300 to fund power washing to remove gum from sidewalks.
Commissioners went into two closed sessions. The first discussed items exempt from disclosure by state or federal statue, and the second discussed a purchasing agreement.