Houghton addresses public project budget items

HOUGHTON — Paving, lighting and sprucing up the M-26 corridor are among budget items discussed by the Houghton City Council Wednesday.

About $93,000 in paving is planned for the major street fund, and $20,000 in crack-sealing maintenance. The paving may be pushed back to fall or next summer due to a price increase of about 40 percent over last year, Waara said.

“It’s just the market — who’s working up here when, how many jobs there are and how much competition there is,” he said. “If they’re all busy, the prices are high.”

Only $10,697 has been budgeted for paving in the local street fund so far. Waara said he is waiting for final spring sweeping numbers to look at the cash balances.

A portion of local street money will also go to the public improvement fund for a portion of sidewalk on Portage Street coming down from the high school that is not inside the Tax Increment Finance Authority district, which is funding the rest of the work.

The city’s revolving loan fund is seeing less use, Waara said, as low interest rates on bank loans make borrowing through the city less attractive.The state has also reduced its match on facade grants.

TIFA projects include some paving in the Red oak subdivision, half the cost of which would be covered by the city and half of which would be covered by Moyle, the developers.

“We’re looking at paving it now versus four years from now, because we’ve got a gravel road on that hill,” Waara said.

Other expenditures in TIFA include $47,000 for M-26 beautification, $25,000 each for road spot repairs and drainage work at Bresnan Estates and Springwood Plats and $15,000 for Huron Creek Vapor Extraction System. That system, which extracts methane, hasn’t been serviced since installation, Waara said.

The beautification project at the M-26/Sharon Avenue intersection would include items such as landscaping, sidewalks and lights.

“There’s always the possibility of future enhancement grants with (Michigan Department of Transportation), but in the near term, we’re looking into possibly tapping into that program for College Avenue, so it’d be awful tough to have multiple enhancement grants from the dot at a short period of time,” Waara said.

The TIFA budget also includes additional lights on Sharon Avenue, which would be placed by the Family Video area over to Cedar Bluff.

“It’s quite dark, and it gets quite a bit of use there,” he said.

It budgets $15,000 for preliminary engineering work on a culvert on Sharon Avenue. The city will look for a possible grant to do the project in 2019.