CASPIAN—The Caspian City Commission voted unanimously at its March meeting to purchase fuel from the city of Gaastra.
Though Caspian is currently exempt from federal, state and sales taxes, the savings would be significant, City Manager John Stokoski told the commission. Buying the gasoline and diesel fuel in bulk from Gaastra would benefit both cities and was already approved by Gaastra. According to Stokoski, both the West Iron County Sewer Authority and the Caspian-Gaastra Public Safety Department purchase their fuel from Gaastra.
In another cost-saving measure, the city hopes to take advantage of a new program under the Michigan Works! Association. The program pairs unemployed cash assistance clients with municipal community service work, allowing the clients to continue receiving assistance from the state. The city had utilized the now defunct Michigan Works Summer Youth Program in the past, employing two workers for grass cutting and other seasonal jobs. As long as the new program is not cut, the city is hoping for one worker for 15 hours per week. Stokoski was authorized to hire two summer employees, either through the program or through the city’s budget, if necessary.
A change in the way the county treasurer’s office handles delinquent utility bills will take a toll on the city’s budget. According to City Attorney Steve Polich, the prevailing practice involving delinquent utility bills, which had been added to the tax roll, recently changed. For more than 20 years, the county had paid the city the total amount owed to them at the start of each year. The county then dealt with the collection process and possible risk of non-payment. According to Stokoski, the county will now pay the city as much money as is recouped, on a monthly basis. Much of the $18,000 to $20,000 per year is collected, but many utility bills are in the names of businesses and limited liability companies and never get paid.
“It will affect the budget.” Stokoski warned.
After receiving citizen complaints of several instances of low-visibility intersections, where clear vision was blocked by large snowbanks, the commission directed Polich to draft an ordinance prohibiting such plowing practices. The ordinance would cover both public and private property and would include areas where zoning setback requirements are already in place.
Stokoski and Mayor Gary Sabol thanked the public who took part in the recent Winterfest activities held in Caspian, though Sabol said that this was the last year the event would be held. The snowmobile drag racing went well, according to Stokoski. He added that there were no problems with the MASTERS hill climb, though attendance was down from last year. Sabol thanked the Caspian-Gaastra Fire Department, who put on the fireworks display, as well as Stokoski and Public Safety Officer J.B. Allen for all of the work they to put on the event.
According to his February Public Safety Department report, Allen followed up on 31 complaints, resulting in two misdemeanor arrests and four felony arrests. A total of 763 miles were put on the patrol vehicle.
The City Commission changed the date of its April meeting from April 10 to Wednesday, April 17.