Salted with Sharks

November Council Meeting Report

In Politics on December 27, 2011 at 11:28 am

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

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