DPW Ken Bonney says the water pipe rupture on the corner of Sheridan and Frankfort Avenue just outside Mix’s Barbershop probably occurred on Friday—he’ll know when he checks the water meter. Because of the holiday and the need for Miss Dig’s involvement the leak could not be repaired until today. Check out the large hole and the crew at work if you get a chance. Ken says this part of the water system has nothing to do with the water that flows into BLUA, so the leak does not account for the overage of several thousand gallons reported by Ken Holmes at the council meeting.—Emily Votruba
Archive for December, 2011|Monthly archive page
By Emily Votruba
December 12, 2011—Art Melendez brought cookies.
Frankfort mayor Bob Johnson asked for volunteers to serve on the subcommittee of the Frankfort Tree Board dealing with the new nursery on the BLUA property. Meetings are every third Tuesday, 1 pm, at City Hall.
Marcia Stobie reported that the Commission on Aging is considering a millage increase proposal, looking at types of services provided by the Council on Aging. Rolland Halliday made a motion to sell
the Maples community, seconded by Commissioner Kelly, citing ongoing allegations of mismanagement. The Commission is working on an alternative energy resolution that will attempt to give due consideration to all side of the windpower issue.
Financials for the month of November were: Receipts, $21,659.16. Expenditures: Accounting/monthly bills, $24,527.92; Payroll, $8,845.72; Parks & Rec: $1,201.03. Total expenditures: $34,574.67.
Our water use is up about 8,000 or 9,000 gallons over normal for the past six months, said Ken Holmes, and he’s not sure why. The pumping is the same.
Meg Louwsma will continue as market master this year and has presented a job description and budget. Aubrey Ann Parker visited the Park and Rec meeting and asked for the Village’s involvement in the April Water Festival. The Solstice committee will present its budget to Council at the January
meeting. Smitty’s donated their time to put up the Village’s holiday decorations.
Treasurer Laura Manville spoke with Frederick Heiden, a state official, concerning our deficit elimination plan, explaining that there’s no way we can become debt free in five years. He said that our plan failure simply means we can’t borrow money, and that our situation would be reevaluated at the end of fiscal year 2012, when we would have to resubmit a revised 5-year plan. He acknowledged we have made progress and are doing our best. Reg said Council should consider selling off assets or doing other fundraising in addition to chipping away as we have been doing. Laura said there are five criteria for emergency manager intervention and that even before we cut a big chunk of our deficit last year we only met three, so we are on our way out of the watch status. Laura has a list of cost-cutting ideas, including switching to quarterly water bills. Laura pointed out that in three years Village employees have voluntarily saved the Village $25,057 in health costs by adopting a different insurance plan.
Ken Holmes pointed out that we can’t discuss employee issues in an open meeting. Sharyn Bower said that was true but that all decisions must be made in a public meeting.
Ken Holmes said the Fire Department hasn’t had a community meeting in six months.
Committee appointments: Reg will take over the position of Park and Rec liaison from Linda, with vague reference to bad relations within the commission. Bill Soper and Linda agreed there’s a conflict of interest with Reg being on the Employee Relations Committee because his wife, Laura, is an employee. The Employee Relations Committee appointment will be revisited at the next meeting.Ψ
Where the Short Grass Grows
By Emily Votruba
November 17, 2011—The two-hour meeting began with a public hearing on the proposed lawn maintenance ordinance. Resident Amanda Rommell said the Village should foster pride through free community cleanup initiatives rather than pass more ordinances they can’t enforce. “I’ve heard Frankfort and Leland tossed around as places we’d like to emulate, but they offer services we’ve never dreamed of.” She added that her family chose to buy a house here because they wanted a little more freedom.
Emily Votruba pointed out that the public hearing was taking place without the proposed ordinance being before the public. Reg Manville said Council had the Frankfort ordinance before them and that
Linda’s suggested change from the previous meeting, to include the parkways (between the sidewalk and the street) as areas to be maintained by residents, would be added to it. Durng the regular meeting, Reg read aloud the proposed lawn ordinance, with a few minor wording changes, requiring that all grass and growth apart from trees, gardens, and other landscaping be kept at a height of no more than 8 inches, including on the Village right of way (parkways), and that property be free of debris and rubbish. The agents of enforcement are the DPW and the Village Office. If owners fail to comply, the work will be done by the Village at the owner’s expense. The ordinance was passed with one nay vote, from Bill Soper.
The financials for the month of October were: Receipts: $24,010.96. Accounting expenses: $28,163.0, Payroll: $9,318.01, Parks & Rec: $1,570.78 (the bulk of this was resurfacing down at the Waterfront
Park Pavilion to prevent slips and falls). Expenditures total: $39,051.80.
Ken Bonney will plant 40 trees donated by the Milarch Archangel Project. Council agreed that the Lifesaving Station should be shut down for the season. Jinx asked the Buildings Committee to look into the costs of winterization. Bill O’Dwyer of Washington Ave. was accepted for membership to Parks and Rec.
Funding will be sought for signage, guardrails, and other measures to help the sheriff’s department and DNR enforce the law against driving on Elberta Beach.
The Employee Relations Committee will meet with the employees and then bring their recommendation before the Council for a decision on the employee health care package at the end of the policy year, in August, and determine our compliance with the state-mandated $5,500 average per-employee cap. Reg reported that we’ve paid our debt to attorney Joe Quandt and to Flies and Vandenbrink. Council discussed the Village’s deficit elimination plan, which we submit to the state every year. Several members of Council were uncomfortable with signing off on the proposed plan, which anticipates revenue from asset sales and taxes in 2012 that are unrealistic. Sharyn said the plan we submitted in August was rejected because it didn’t completely eliminate the $500,000 deficit: “[The state is] pushing people into a corner where they have to lie.” The issue was tabled till the December meeting.
ELHC will remove the old ferry docs this spring. Parts may be salavaged by interested parties. Scott Gest said nothing of historical value is left to preserve because of deterioration and several groups he contacted weren’t interested. He said the Betsie Valley trail will likely get funding next year through grants he is working on. The public trail would eventually extend through the development all along the waterfront. Benzie County Park and Rec may acquire sections of the rails-to-trails corridor that could ultimately link Elberta to Traverse City.
Matt remarked that he would like to improve his own and the council’s attitude toward public participation in meetings. He referred to Ruth Nanni’s unfortunate reception at her last-ever
council meeting. Ψ
On Thursday night this week, the Garden Theater hosts caroling from 6 pm to 7 pm, followed by a free showing of The Muppets. They’re also collecting nonperishable food items and clothing for BACN (Benzie Area Christian Neighbors). Good King Wenceslas would be proud.
This Saturday, tomorrow, from 4 pm to 6 pm at Elberta’s Best Church (Elberta United Methodist), come out for a free beef stew community dinner with fellowship and all the fixin’s. 555 Lincoln Avenue!
Today, December 7, is the last day to place orders for rosette cookies, being made and sold as a benefit by Elberta United Methodist Church to raise money for their new windows. Price is $3 a dozen. The cookies will be made fresh on Saturday, December 10 and may be picked up that day between 4 pm and 6 pm, and on Sunday the 11th between 10:30 a.m. and 12 p.m. Contact Virginia Craker at 231-352-4897 to place an order.
The Council Meeting, which normally happens on the third Thursday of each month, will be held this coming Monday the 12th, at 7 pm. The date was changed to accommodate Village President Reg Manville’s new schedule as basketball coach at Frankfort–Elberta High School.