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Last week was budget hearing time in Culver, and while a great deal of the proceedings were business as usual, a few items solicited some robust audience interaction with members of Culver's town council, which oversees approval of each department's budget as submitted.
After some challenges this year with two grass trucks owned by the Culver fire department, a new grass truck was requested to replace the 1973 model still in use. However, Union Township trustee Jerry Greason noted the $30,000 in the township's cumulative fire fund at present won't cover the township's contribution to the total $90,000 purchase price of the new truck, from Oliver Ford in Plymouth. Instead, he said the total $70,000 contribution of the township can be available in January.
Council president Sally Ricciardi suggested the department order the new truck soon and pick it up after January 1. Fire chief Mike Grover noted the vehicle will have to be sent in to be outfitted for firefighting equipment, once in the department's possession.
The council approved the fire departmentâ€™s budget as submitted.
Culver park superintendent Kelly Young requested a total of $25,674 for her department, a decrease, she said, of $18,000. Among specific requests was $8,320 out of the total $88,220 in salaries, for the newly created position of a programming director for the park. Young said the position would include creation of programs for senior citizens, middle school aged children who tend not to participate in Culver's Boys & Girls Club, and other children, at about 16 hours per week, year round.
While the program director would work out of the beach lodge, programs might take place anywhere in town. Young added she hopes such programs would be offered free of charge.
In response to Young's request for a three percent raise for the park superintendent position, to $22,690, audience member Patty Stallings -- who sits on the park board -- noted fellow park board member Ed Behnke suggested employees shouldn't be given raises at this time, at the most recent park board meeting earlier this month.
Stallings also asked for clarification of the superintendent's employment package, which she said she believes includes salary, life insurance, and rental costs to live in the beach lodge. Young said living in the beach lodge was a condition of her employment agreement when she was hired in the 1980s as superintendent, partly to increase oversight of the property to prevent vandalism and the like.
Council member Lynn Overmyer said the stipulation was added during a major renovation of the park in the mid-1970s. She said she pays a flat fee for utilities, and all her water and sewer, and that she receives health insurance through employment at Culver Elementary School. Overmyer also noted the park board makes decisions regarding raises and other policies, rather than the council.
In response to a query from council member Ginny Munroe, town manager Dave Schoeff said he understood the park board would conduct a performance evaluation of Young in October. Young also requested a UTV "Gator" type vehicle for use at the park, particularly with hauling away seaweed and debris. She projected park income from boat slip rentals, beach admission, parking, and other various sources to be around $55,000.
Some discussion took place after audience member Mike Stallings questioned around $200,000 sitting in a park fund unused, which he suggested is "a heavy amount to have sitting there."
Council member Ed Pinder countered that the money should be viewed similarly to the "rainy day funds" many public entities keep on hand, and shouldn't be spent without necessity.
Munroe said if more surplus monies -- which Young said have come about partly due to "the wonderful summers we've had lately" -- wind up totaling $300,000 to $400,000, "it would look like we're gouging people who attend that beach. Their tax dollars have already paid once (for beach maintenance)."
She asked if Young could revisit the playground project which took place a few years ago, and perhaps use the excess funds to create the personalized fence pickets or bricks originally slated for use with the community- built playground. Young said the park board would have to vote on such a decision.
Following the meeting, town clerk Karen Heim corrected statements made during the meeting and affirmed the park's budget did decrease last year due to a lessened tax draw following an error in advertising the budget for 2011.
Culver's EMS, represented by director Chuck Dilts, was approved for its 2013 budget of $315,325. Dilts noted in 2014, state laws will change EMT training requirements, so the new budget reflects required classes for Culver EMTs in preparation for that. Different rates for residents will be charged in 2014; the department will also have fewer paramedic assists from other EMS services, such as Plymouth, once those changes go into effect as well.
The Culver police budget increased from $367,150 to $372,874, a net increase of $5724. Increases include from $222,000 to $226,825 for salaries; from $6,000 to $6,375 in longevity; from $71,000 to $74,124 for benefits. Decreases include from $12,000 to $11,500 for insurance and bonds, from $600 to $500 in laundry; and from $12,000 to $11,000 for squad car.
The street department budget increased from $363,025 to $368,000, a net increase of $4975. Increases include: from $83,000 to $87,000 for salaries; from $3,125 to $3,400 for longevity; from $27,000 to $28,200 in benefits. Radios decreased from $500 to $0.
The clerkâ€™s budget has a net increase of $6,164, from $290,500 to $296,664. The salary line item decreased ($11,350) while longevity ($250), benefits ($1914), general insurance ($3,000), water ($50), electricity ($2,000), contractual services ($5,000) and equipment ($7,000) increased.View more articles in: