Council discusses budget changes

HOUGHTON – Among a number of decisions made during its final session planning the next budget, the City Council cut funding for one year for the historical photo exhibit at Dee Stadium.

The city’s trash plan, which is designed to be revenue neutral, may be tweaked if whatever plan Hancock approves lowers the price of Houghton’s contract.

In the city’s sewer fund, City Manager Eric Waara projected increases in residential sales ($985,000 to $1 million) and to Michigan Technological University ($790,000 to $800,000).

“Other years, it’s been considerably higher,” he said. “Depending on water savings on programs, that can change.”

Sewer maintenance was increased by about $54,000 to $200,050 to address things found after grant-funded sewer inspections last year.

“We certainly want to move forward with a lot of smaller projects to fix the easy stuff that we know is out there,” he said.

Expenditures to the Portage Lake Water and Sewage Authority, which are usage-based, are expected to decrease from $1.3 million to $1.26 million. After improvements from 2012 sewer work, Houghton’s share of the payments have dropped from about 70 percent to around 62 percent.

Water sales were also projected to increase slightly. Residential sales were budgeted to go from $640,000 to $650,000, accompanied by a jump from $413,000 to $420,000 from Tech.

Waara said the city will look to increase hydrant maintenance, and changing out problem service lines before they leak.

In equipment, Waara said the city is looking to buy a new sander, as well as a police car. Some Department of Public Works members went to look at three sanders in Wisconsin.

“Out of all the pieces of equipment that we own, that’s probably the one that gets the most use in the winter,” Waara said.