City passes 2021-22 budget and approves placement of pride flag at Clinch Park

Traverse City commissioners on Monday approved the city’s 2021-2022 budget, declared June of LGBTQ + pride in Traverse City, and approved the hanging of a Progress Pride flag in Clinch Park and calling on Grand County Crosses to hoist a flag at the government center. Commissioners also approved changes to the rules for platform cafes in the city and passed a resolution opposing proposed statewide legislation that would prohibit local communities from regulating short-term rentals.

Commissioners on Monday approved the city’s 2021-2022 budget, including the designation of funds to add several new positions, including a city communications specialist, a director of Hickory Hills, an engineer aide, an administrative assistant of the fire department and a street service equipment operator. The board approved the staff proposed $ 19.7 million general fund operating budget, as well as Traverse City Light & Power’s $ 35.1 million budget, the $ 2.3 million budget. from the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), the TIF 97 budget of $ 3.3 million and the Old Town TIF budget of $ 777,850. .

According to City Manager Marty Colburn, the city is entering its next fiscal year – which begins July 1 – “in a stable financial state” thanks to spending cuts during the pandemic, achieving 5.22% revenue growth for the city. Real estate / personal property tax due to a strong real estate market in the city and receiving state and federal funding. An additional $ 1.55 million is expected to reach the city thanks to the recently adopted U.S. bailout, and city staff are asking for millions in low-interest state loans this summer to deal with urgent repairs to the city. water and sewerage throughout the city.

In addition to these repair loans, City Commissioner Tim Werner on Monday introduced a motion to include $ 60,000 in the new budget for a study on entry and infiltration, which was approved by the board of directors. Influx and infiltration are the two main culprits plaguing the city’s sewers, according to director of municipal utilities Art Krueger. Influx occurs when water enters the system through manhole covers or illegal connections between roof drains or basement sump pumps. Infiltration occurs through cracks or loose joints in pipes as surface water seeps through the ground and enters the pipes. Infiltration is a particular risk when the pipeline is submerged by groundwater, which puts pressure on the pipeline. According to city data, more than 7.1 miles of the city’s sewer lines are below Lake Michigan’s record water levels last year, likely signifying an increase in groundwater pressure. on all these pipes.

While some of the state loans requested by the city could be used for influx and infiltration repair projects, Werner said the city needs to get ahead by developing a strategic plan first. to resolve these issues. “I think we have a responsibility to start watching this,” he said. “We know this is a problem, so we should start looking at it.” Commissioner Brian McGillivary agreed that a “long-term strategic plan” was important, saying the city did not yet have a “holistic” approach to analyze some of the biggest challenges facing its infrastructure. Also tied to water and sewers in the budget, municipal water and sewer rates will rise three percent this year to keep up with inflation and infrastructure costs.

The new approved budget also covers plans to establish a community policing advisory committee to provide feedback from local stakeholders to the city manager and the head of TCPD. Both officials said they saw the committee as an opportunity to increase transparency and build public confidence in TCPD’s operations. Colburn also included funds in the next budget to go through a visioning process to consider the potential future uses of the city-owned senior center building on East Front Street. With Grand Traverse County exploring the possibility of moving its main programming off-site, city staff want to be proactive in considering other potential future options for the property. Staff said the site will continue to be used for public recreation / park, if not for ongoing seniors programming. Any other type of use or sale of the property would require a public vote under the city charter.

Also at the committee meeting on Monday …
> Traverse City Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution declaring the month of June for LGBTQ + pride in the city and approved the flying of a Progress Pride flag on the pole of Clinch Park for the month. The Progress Pride flag features the six-color rainbow flag that is traditionally used as a symbol of the LGBTQ + community, as well as black and brown stripes to represent communities of color and pink, light blue and white colors to represent the transgender community.

Commissioners also approved a resolution calling for Grand Traverse County to fly the Pride of Progress flag at the government center, which is co-owned by the county and city. Grand Traverse County Administrator Nate Alger recently rejected an individual request from Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers to hoist a pride flag, prompting Carruthers to ask his fellow city commissioners to support the request so that it officially comes from the city as a whole. Algiers raised concerns about the First Amendment regarding the display of the flag in its rejection note to Carruthers, saying it could force the center of government to respond to all other types of flag requests.

Due to the risk that a county-city disagreement over hoisting the flag at the government center could extend beyond June, city commissioners also approved the installation of a flag at Clinch Park this month. , because this place belongs entirely to the city. City attorney Lauren Trible-Laucht included recommended language in the resolution that made it clear that hoisting the flag was a city commission speech choice – government agencies also have protections for free speech – and did not open the Clinch Park flag pole as a forum for public discourse. . Thus, the city would not be obliged to display other flags there at the request of other parties. McGillivary said the language “essentially harpooned” Algiers’ objections to the display of a flag at the Government Center and thanked Trible-Laucht for his work on the resolution.

> Commissioners approved changes to the city ordinance that will now allow platform cafes – or outdoor dining platforms that are built in city parking spaces outside restaurants – to operate in blocks 100 and 200 of Front Street. Quayside cafes were previously allowed in other parts of downtown and town, but not in the main blocks of Front Street. The changes also increased the number of platform cafes allowed across town from a maximum of 10 to 15, with cafes being able to operate from April 1 to November 1.

> Finally, the commissioners passed a resolution opposing Michigan House Bill 4722, which would deprive local governments of the ability to regulate short-term vacation rentals in the state. While supporters of the bill have said it protects private property rights and allows homeowners to maximize the value of their homes, opponents (including many municipalities) have said it amounts to an excess of l ‘State in control of local zoning and could significantly disrupt housing markets in vacation destinations like Cross Town.

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