HARRISON – Prior to the Harrison City Council’s Dec. 5 regular meeting, a public hearing was held on the city’s proposed 2023 budget. After the brief 15-minute hearing, which drew only clarification questions from some council members regarding retired employee health benefits and the annual recurring $5,000 marijuana provisioning center application fee, the hearing was closed and the regular Harrison City Council meeting begun. Interestingly, within a span of less than 20 minutes, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited at the beginning of both.
Council meeting minutes of Nov. 21 were adopted, as were Council bills of Dec. 5. That led into the Mayor’s Report, in which Dan Sullivan thanked the fire department for inviting Council to its Christmas party, remarked how great the town looks with the holiday decorations and extended his thanks to Sam Russell, Department of Public Works superintend. He also thanked Mike Freeman, code enforcement officer, for all his efforts on behalf of the city.
As Council member Angela Kellogg had missed the previous meeting when other members had been sworn into office, it was decided she should be sworn in post haste. Thus, Justin Cavanaugh, city manager/clerk, administered her oath of office as follows:
“I do solemnly swear or affirm that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this state, and that I will faithfully perform the duties of the office of City Council in and for the City of Harrison, County of Clare, and the State of Michigan, according to the best of my ability, so help me God.”
After Kellogg signed her oath, business resumed, and the two previous motions were revisited with new votes reflecting the previous votes.
Moving on to Reports of Committees and Department Heads, Fire Chief Chris Damvelt reported 349 runs year-to-date, adding “It’s been a quiet week.” He also spoke of the upcoming Dec. 10 Lighted Parade, and discussion turned to the possibility of procuring some large inflatables for future use in that parade, and possibly the July 4 parade, as well.
Sam Russell began his report by congratulating Colton Hilyard on passing his Water Licensing, which makes him certified and licensed in lagoons and in water.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Russell said, adding that the DPW is waiting on the results of Reed Romanowski’s lagoons test, and that it would probably hear on that in the next couple weeks. “But it’s great to have them certified and ready to go.”
Russell also noted the north water tower was currently drained for work to be done during the construction period. That would include new valves installation, cathodic protection, plus a new pump motor in that wellhouse. He said that tower would be down for a while, but hopefully not for the entire winter.
Freeman reported things were fairly quiet for his department.
“We were in court last week, and we’ll be in court next week” he said. “But, other than that, everything else’s been pretty quiet.”
Tracy Wheeler-Clay noted the tax bills had been sent out Dec.1 and reminded that the Harrison Board of Review was to be held Dec. 13 for errors, omissions, veteran exemptions or poverty exemptions. She added that Principal Residence Exemptions are now handled by the assessor.
When Kathy Maharas stated her usual “Everything’s great in the water department,” Russell brought up the fact that all the new water meters have been received and are awaiting installation. That installation will mean a far more streamlined billing process for Maharas and the city’s residents.
In his report, Cavanaugh reported having been working on the budget, and now moving on to end-of-year miscellaneous tasks. He noted having begun working on creating a Harrison Planning Commission handbook similar to the Harrison City Council handbook. Cavanaugh said he has been doing lots of training and is trying to work on figuring out what the city can do with the City Market.
“And I submitted the application for our Master Plan to be amended, and am waiting to hear back from the MEDC on that,” he said. “If we do [get it], we can get up to 75% of that rewrite paid for … instead of a full rewrite, what we can do is just amend what we want to change, and save us some money and time.”
He said if the grant does come in, some of the money that would have been spent on rewriting the Master Plan could be spent on an analysis of the ordinances to determine what makes sense in relation to the way the city’s lots are platted.
“Like it doesn’t make sense for us to have an average of 40-foot lot and require 60-foot frontage,” Cavanaugh said.
Under New Business, Council moved to:
-Adopt Resolution 2022-20, which reinstates Members First Credit Union, PNC Bank and Huntington’s as the city’s primary depository institutions, with any bank in the state being an alternative, and states the current city manager and treasurer shall be the signers (and others, as necessary).
-Adopt Resolution 2022-21, which provides for the treasurer being able to collect a 1% tax administration fee for processing/mailing/writing checks.
-Adopt Resolution 2022-22, Zoning and Property Adjustment fees.
Council also unanimously approved the City of Harrison 2023 Proposed Budget.
Council member Mick Haley spoke on action taken to fill the open Council position which resulted from Dan Sullivan’s shift into the mayor position. It was explained that interviews to fill the position had been held prior to that evening’s meeting.
“We appreciate anyone who’s interested in serving the community, especially ours,” he said. “And I would like to make a motion to nominate Ryan Colville to the open Council position.”
Garret Wood seconded the motion and Council voted to approve that appointment, with a lone dissenting vote cast by Karen Hulliberger.
Under Remarks at the end of the meeting, Bob Stewart stood to address Council, and offered a suggestion regarding the methodology used to fill vacant Council positions.
“Going forward, if you’re doing appointment of a Council position, I think it would be a good idea to follow a process and be consistent in your process” he said. “Because, the last two positions, that was not followed by any means.”
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