Council OKs city budget, utility hikes

ESCANABA — The Escanaba City Council unanimously voted in favor of the city’s $31 million operating budget for 2017-2018 — including hikes in electric, water, and wastewater rates — during its regular meeting Thursday.

The approved budget includes revenue generated from the following utility increases which go into effect when the new fiscal year begins on July 1: a 1.75 percent electric rate hike; an 8.4 percent water rate increase; and an 8.99 percent wastewater rate hike.

The rate increases are needed to help meet increased costs and maintain city services in the operating budget, which will also be taking approximately $200,000 from reserve funds to balance revenues with expenses.

Major budget items in the upcoming year include a full-time police officer, a new garbage truck, a water disinfection byproduct system, wastewater equipment upgrades, and water and electric meter replacements.

Administrators began working on the upcoming budget with individual department heads in January.

Following two days of work sessions last month, council added expenditures — including sanitary sewer line repairs, dock repairs, and more street repairs — before finalizing the proposed budget.

Five public hearings have been held on the proposed operating finances, including a public hearing held during Thursday’s meeting when no public comments were received. No comments were made by council members prior to voting in favor of the 2017-18 finances.

In addition to approving the city’s operating budget and establishing the city’s millage rate, council also approved the 2017-18 master fee schedule.

Fee increases include the non-winter parking violation citation rising from $15 to $25 and the winter parking violation citation rising from $30 to $35.

Council also set dates to adopt specific ordinances as required each year.

A public hearing and adoption of the city’s appropriations ordinance, including the millage rate, is set for May 24 when a public hearing and adoption will also take place on the city’s tax levy ordinance. There are no changes in millage rates for the upcoming fiscal year.

On June 5, public hearings and adoptions are scheduled for electric, wastewater, water and trash ordinances. Though rates are increasing for electric, water and wastewater, there are no changes in the garbage pickup rate for the upcoming fiscal year.

In other business Thursday, council also approved the purchase of several chemicals for the water and wastewater departments.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143,