CRYSTAL FALLS— Cuts and increased efficiency were key to eliminating Crystal Falls’ $400,000 deficit in less time than projected, according to a report from Mayor Janet Hendrickson.
“The deficit elimination plan submitted to the state of Michigan projected it would take four years to put the city’s general fund back in the black,” Hendrickson said in a State of the City report presented during the council’s regular meeting Nov. 5. “We did it in only two years,”
Hendrickson cited wage freezes, eliminating three full-time employees and utility rate increases as steps toward solvency. Adding to the tax base are new businesses on Superior Avenue and in the industrial park.
The mayor also pointed to $3 million infrastructure improvement projects that included many new water and sewer mains plus construction of a new water tank. The city also has installed smart meters at each residence. “The meter technology is such that all the meters on the city’s electric system can now be read from the desk of the billing clerk, eliminating the need to manually read each meter each month,” the report said.
“This powerful technology promises to further enhance the way we all use our electricity to save energy and money well into the future.”
The projects were funded in part by the American Rehabilitation and Recovery Act.
During the coming year, city administrators plan to renovate a power plant on the Paint River. Another project seeks National Historic Registration for City Hall in hopes of receiving grant funding for renovations there.
The report cited legislative changes and ever-increasing costs as challenges to continued solvency.
“I would like to say that the city is recovering nicely from its past financial woes,” Hendrickson said. “However, we have a long way to go, and we continue to look for ways to economically provide the services needed and wanted by our citizens.”