Onaway City Commission discusses DPW list of budget requests

by Angie Asam-Staff Writer

Monday evening the Onaway City commission met and conducted a second budget workshop. At the first budged workshop in January the commission discussed a bare bones budget and discussed the potential need to increase the water, sewer and garbage rates.

Since that workshop city manager Joe Hefele took the expected property tax revenue in the general fund down to reflect an eight percent decrease to residential values per the city assessor.

Hefele also put in the contributions to the ambulance and fire departments to reflect the budgets the commission approved at the first meeting in February.

With the new numbers put in the budget is expected to break even except in the sewer fund, which shows a $21,000 deficit.

All additional revenue in the budget is pledged to street projects, in the amount of $41,860. The commission will be discussing utility rates and policies at the March 9 meeting.

MONDAY THE commission heard from the department of public works (DPW) on the things they wanted/needed included in the budget. John Palmer of the DPW was at the meeting to go over the list in greater detail with the commissioners.

Two items on the list will be paid for from the water fund, therefore, did not affect general fund dollars, and both were approved as budgeted expenses. One was a SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system with a cost of $16,255 plus $1,039 in annual software/support. The current system operating the water/wastewater system is 34 years old and the motherboard in the water tower was down not long ago and the city was able to find a used one that was in good shape. “When that was down we had to come in and manually run the pumps to keep the level of the tower up to service the city,” said Palmer, which led to overtime wage costs.

Improvements to wellhouse No. 4 were also approved to be put in the water fund, with $8,656 budgeted for new pipes and $1,200 budgeted to repairs to the exterior of the building.

The other items on the list from the DPW were new dump truck tires, an underground pipe locator, tires for the Rhino used for reading meters, a new air compressor for the garage, forks for the New Holland tractor, a utility trailer, the repair of the lighting in Chandler Park and a leaf blower.

Palmer took the commission through each item identifying why the item was on the list. After he was through the list the commission asked him to give his recommendation on what the priorities were.

Palmer along with the commissioners decided that the three most needed items were the utility trailer, dump truck tires and the compressor. Those were the items that will be included in the budget.

Currently the city uses the school’s utility trailer for brush hauling and hauling lawnmowers to the cemetery. “Without the ability to haul the mowers to the cemetery we spend 20 minutes driving out there and the same coming back,” said Palmer. With a trailer to haul the mowers he feels that the crew can head to the cemetery in the morning with three lawnmowers and finish the mowing there in one day. The cost of the trailer is $2,900 plus freight.

Palmer hopes to put the new tires on the dump truck next fall, just before snowplowing season begins. The tires can make it until then. He has priced recap tires, which are supposed to last just as long as a brand new tire, for $2,400 for eight tires.

The current air compressor at the shop is down on pressure and doesn’t meet the needs of the DPW in filling up tires for the big trucks. A new one comes with a price tag of $2,200 and will be included in the budget.

The commission will hold off on the lighting in Chandler Park although they feel it is a concern. The reason for holding off is the city will be working on a community recreation plan which will allow them to apply for grant dollars to make improvements in the park.