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City Commission discusses waiving fees during virtual meeting

Mount Pleasant City Commission meets over Zoom April 27 to discuss city finances.

The Mount Pleasant City Commission once again met over the Zoom conferencing app on April 27 to discuss various ways the city could help local businesses and residents during the novel coronavirus spread. These include measures related to utility bills, taxes and city fees.

Commissioners went through a list of potential ways to lessen financial burdens on residents and free up funds for the city, which can be found on the city’s website. One idea the commission was generally in favor of was waiving late fees on summer taxes paid Aug. 1 to Sept. 15.

Some of the commissioners were interested in reducing the tax captures for the Local Development Finance Authority (LDFA), which provides funding for the Central Michigan University SmartZone. Commissioner Lori Gillis said reducing the capture of the LDFA, and maybe the Downtown Development Authority as well, could free up enough money to waive the 1% administrative fees on the summer tax bill. Waiving this fee would reduce the general fund by $170,000.

Commissioners Kristin LaLonde and Petro Tolas expressed interest in reducing the tax capture of the LDFA. However, Mayor Will Joseph said he would only be in favor of lowering the tax captures if a plan was put in place on what the money the city saved would be used for.

Removing the 1% administrative fee isn’t much of a relief, said Commissioner Amy Perschbacher. She said if a small business pays $6,000 dollars in taxes, removing 1% of that won’t be of much help during a time when much of their business is taken away.

Some of these fees are time-sensitive, with the commission needing to make tax-based decisions by May and utility-based decisions by the 20th of each month. City fees, however, can be made anytime by the commission. Apart from agreeing that food truck fees shouldn’t be lifted, the commission didn’t reach a consensus on this area during the meeting.

Commissioner Tolas said it’s too early to have these discussions and is worried about how Mount Pleasant will make up lost funds.

“The city is in a good stance right now,” Tolas said. “I can’t see (us) starting to impact some of these items and go somewhere when we don’t know what’s around the corner.”

Other Business

  • City Manager Nancy Ridley said the city continues to monitor services on a weekly basis to comply with state executive orders. She said the city is looking to address their backlog of housing inspections by performing them in the evenings.
  • City Manager Nancy Ridley announced the hiring of Jason Moore as the city’s director of public works. Ridley said he began working with the city in 1999 and held many positions in the sector of public works. “One of his great strengths is his curiosity and constant interest in learning skills and new information,” Ridley said.
  • The commission voted in a unanimous vote to extend the deadline for submitting merit-based marijuana business materials to May 27.

The full meeting can be viewed on the city’s YouTube channel