IRON RIVER—At its regular April 17 meeting, the Iron River City Council agreed to hire GEI Consultants to look at city water and sewer rates. The analysis will cost $5,000.
According to City Manager Perry Franzoi, the sewer fund is having financial problems. By hiring GEI to look at the current billing procedures and other structural aspects of the fund, he said, it may solve the problems.
Through the process, Franzoi hopes to create a uniform utility bill that is easier for consumers and taxpayers to understand. “It’s going to be uniform across the board,” he said. “The goal is to make it clearer, simpler and fair.”
The council also discussed Richard amd Heidi Priestley’s claim for damages due to a city water main break.
Roy Polich, the attorney representing the Priestleys, said that the homeowners insurance is refusing to pay for damages because it was a water main break, and the city’s insurance is refusing to pay for damages because of governmental immunity.
City Attorney Mark Tousignant said the city cannot legally pay money without the insurance allowing it.
Mayor Terry Tarsi asked if it would be beneficial if he, Franzoi and Tousignant would hold a conference call with the city’s insurance company. “Our water main broke, and the water that came from it caused the damage to their home,” he said.
Franzoi agreed that speaking with the insurance company could help but may not change its decision.
• Council members discussed concerns about a sinkhole that was recently found on the Tailings disc golf course, which along the Apple Blossom Trail.
The sinkhole is near the second basket in the disc golf course, according to Franzoi, and is related to a former mining area.
The hole is growing daily, but the depth of the hole is unknown due to the hazards of the ground around the hole. The city has the hole fenced off for now and is closing that area off to the public due to the danger of the caving ground.
Before the disc golf course was created, there was an impression in the ground where the sinkhole is located, and a contractor was hired to fill the depression.
Franzoi is looking into better fencing around the hole and has been investigating funding for the new fencing. The county’s mining inspector was contacted and has maps of the old mining activity in the area.
The new hole is located close to an existing fenced-in area for caving ground, also due to mining. “Potentially, I can see that whole area caving in,” the manager said.
• The City Council accepted millage language for the Windsor Recreation Authority proposal that will be placed on the ballot for voters to decide.
William Commenator, secretary of the Windsor Center, said the millage will keep the center doors open to the public. The summer recreation programs once funded by the school district are now funded by the Windsor authority.
•The city appointed Mike Brozak to fill the council vacancy that will expire on Dec. 31. Other applicants were Jere Fritsche and Ron Leonoff. Councilman Bill LaRock voted no, but the motion to appoint Brozak carried.
• In other business, the council:
--Agreed to renew its membership in the Michigan Municipal League at a cost of $2,758. The MML provides sample ordinances and policies for the city to use. “It is a very good service for the amount of money that we spend,” Franzoi said.
--Supported the U.P. Championship Rodeo co-sponsorship with Downtown Development Authority, at a cost of $2,000. “They’re doing a great job,” Tarsi said. “A lot of hard work goes into it with no pay.”
--Voted unanimously to accept the GEI proposal for the M-189 water main replacement. GEI will be doing the inspecting for the project. “It’s a critical line to the system. This is something that should be done,” Franzoi said.
--Accepted the GM Communications invoice of $1,532.05 for the transfer of parts from an old police car to the new one purchased earlier this year.
--Accepted the American Legal Publishing Corp. invoice of $1,891.94 for the revision of code ordinances as part of the Central School project, required by the charter according to Tousignant. The city attorney’s invoice of $2,082.50 was also accepted.
--Was told by Franzoi that it will receive the proposed city budget for the next fiscal year by May 1. A public hearing will be set on May 15, and the budget is to be adopted before July 1. The council approved the proposed dates.