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Village eyes roads, sidewalks, improvements



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July 14, 2010 - Ortonville- In the current economic times, it is rare to find a municipality that hasn't had to make any cuts. Here in the village, not only did the council recently pass a budget with relative ease and no cuts, but officials are now looking at spending money on improvements.

"I feel fortunate to be in the position we are in," said Village Council President Ken Quisenberry at the July 12 council meeting.

The council voted 4-1 at the meeting to have Village Manager Larry Brown investigate how to best use roughly $80,000 to make capital improvements in the village. Councilmember Kay Green voted no, saying she was opposed to putting a dollar amount on the improvements. Councilmembers Aileen Champion and Dan Eschmann were absent.

Quisenberry said $80,000 was not a goal, just a number to put out there, and stressed that this was not approval to spend the money, just for Brown to put together a project or two to be done in the village.

"We're asking him to look at multiple capital improvements, for serious consideration of proposals to be brought to us in the next couple weeks," he said.

Brown said projects being considered include replacement of a Department of Public Works vehicle, as well as street and sidewalk repairs.

"All the streets that are in not as good of shape will be on a list for (councilmembers) to choose from," he said. "I will come up with rough estimates and we can hone in on what we want to do, then get finer estimates and quotes for several different projects, in order of what is most important."

The village has the option of making some expenditures due to a healthy fund balance of approximately $500,000, or 97 percent of the budget. Brown said he thinks spending $80,000, or 16 percent of the fund balance, is a good amount. While that may seem conservative, he said that property values are still sliding from a 2007 peak, and it is estimated homes will be valued at 50 percent of what they were at their top value when they bottom out in 2013.

"The tax revenue the village receives is going to be down nearly half when it stops dropping," Brown explained. "The fund balance will be used to help us through the lean years. That's why we won't aggressively spend a lot of the fund balance... If things don't turn out to be as dire as predicted, we could spend more later."

Brown will present some village improvement plans to the council at their next meeting, set for 7 p.m., July 26, at the township offices, 395 Mill St.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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