Albion Recorder & Morning Star News

Delinquent water bills to be added to summer tax bills, Senior Housing coming closer to reality for Albion

Those who owe delinquent water bills can expect to see them added to their summer tax bill. At Monday’s meeting, the Albion City Council voted to approve the addition of delinquent water bills and receivables owed to the city to the tax bills that will go out on July 1.

“These are bills that came delinquent as of Sept. 1, 2023,” said City Finance Director David Clark.

These fees include water and sewer bills as well as any receivables owed to the city for mowing and trash removal through the abatement program.

Council also approved a resolution to submit a Michigan Shared Streets and Spaces grant application for the North Eaton Street Sidewalk Improvement Project. This project was authorized in 2022; however, the construction bids received were much higher than available funds.

Assistant City Manager Scott Kipp explained the project. “This is to place sidewalks in the north Eaton corridor from Watson Street up to the expressway (B-Drive). Currently there are no sidewalks in that area.” Kipp noted that public safety sees a lot of people walking down the street. “We have a lot of people who don’t have vehicles that walk, especially up to McDonald’s, so I think this is a great idea to get these sidewalks put in in that area to so that our citizens have a safe place to walk.”

The city will be applying for a $200,000 grant with an $86,000 local match commitment for a total project cost of $286,000.00.

Deputy Director of Public Services Jason Kern discussed the need for new equipment that can be used to repair streets. “We recently attended a Great Lakes Public Works expo where all the associations come together and look at a lot of new equipment,” said Kern. “There is a new style patching machine that actually uses a self-leveling substance, so no more throwing asphalt down with chunks of stone and asphalt.” This type of patch lasts for about five years, while the asphalt patch currently used to fill holes can be easily dug up by snowplows, resulting in the need to fill them every year.

“We all know our streets are pretty bad. There are some that we have put so many Band Aids on, they just need to be redone, but it always comes down to money,” Kern said. One proposed piece of equipment is a mastic patching machine. “Instead of a Band Aid, this is more like a massive gauze pad,” said Kern.

“From my standpoint as finance director, I can find what we need to make this work if we seriously want to improve our roads” said Clark. “Jason has shown me that he’s done a lot of good work for the DPW. We’ve made a ton of improvements, not only investing in our equipment and upgrading our equipment, but also redoing our building out there, the guys’ attitudes are very good and everybody seems to be working together. It makes a huge difference.”

The public works department, along with its employees, came up with a list of equipment needs for council to consider including two mastic patcher units, two medium size dump trucks, a large size dump/plow truck, two Kubota tractors, and a Bobcat skid steer with several attachments to perform a variety of jobs around the city including a broom attachment that can be used on sidewalks for snow removal, two Kubota UTV units for the Parks and Wastewater departments and a larger unit along with a mini excavator for use in the cemetery. The purchases will be staggered so they can be rotated out and not all need to be replaced at the same time.

“We’ve actually sat down with the staff and picked their brains. They’re the ones with boots on the ground,” said Kern, “we asked them ‘what do you think will work’ and this is the list that they have come up with.”

“If we can purchase our own equipment and not have to hire third parties to do the work,” he continued, “over time it’s going to save us money.”

Mayor Victoria Garcia Snyder added, “As far as my memory can go in the past 3 1/2 years I’ve been sitting in this seat, the only topic that has come up at every single meeting has been roads. I think if we are doing our due diligence for our constituents who have complained… this is a priority and we need to move forward and we need to make decisions as we have so many roads that need addressing”

Linda Kolmodin and Marcia Starkey provided an update on the senior housing commission. In 2019 the Albion Community Foundation was awarded $150,000 redevelopment grant as part of the Calhoun County Strategic Project grant through county senior millage.

“For many years the community of Albion has sought opportunities to develop mid-market rate housing for older adults,” said Kolmodin. ”Members of the senior housing commission have worked tirelessly for this development to become a reality for Albion.”

“My favorite word the last couple weeks has been ‘ta-da’ there’s something to share,” said Starkey. “Spearheaded by Representative Tim Walberg’s office and the Community Foundation, Rep Walberg has submitted a proposal for federal appropriations for $3.5 million to support this senior project in Albion.”

“We can confirm it is not the Washington Gardner location,” said Starkey. “It is anticipated to be in a residential part of town near Haven Road, but until we complete the purchase in the coming months, or two, we are respecting the confidentiality of the current owner.”

“This significant grant is meant to address the core infrastructure costs for this project such as water, sewer, gas… so as not to financially burden the city.” To receive the funding, council will need to vote to accept it.

To view the meeting in its entirety, visit the city’s You Tube page. The next meeting of the Albion City Council will be Monday, June 17 at 7 pm.

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