Ishpeming’s newly hired city manager Mark Slown has been looking for ways to tighten the city’s spending budget since taking over in October – a challenge that’s right in his wheelhouse.
“All the communities I’ve worked in actually have been mining communities,” Slown said. “The village of Oxford was the ‘Gravel Capital of America’, Rogers City has the largest limestone quarry in North America, and of course here (Ishpeming) is iron mining. The type of mining has been a little different, but economic challenges abound in mining communities due to the fact that they’re kind of boom and bust industries.”
“If the economy’s going well, there’s a lot of demand. The natural resource prices go up, things are pretty good, then when the economy’s hurting, natural resource prices can be suppressed and communities can struggle. And that makes it very important that we have world class recreational facilities. One, for the community itself, and then two, to provide an attraction to bring people in to help supplement the local economy with tourism.”
But those improvements cost money, something Ishpeming is in short supply of right now.
That is why Slown is taking the city’s five–year recreation plan out of the hands of private contractors and into those of existing staff members whose salaries are already in the budget.
But, the plan–which would seek out state funding– will not work without the help of the community.
“We can’t ask money from the DNR unless they see that we have documentation of a public need and a public desire for certain facilities,” Slown said. “The problem is we have a short time frame. We’re supposed to have a draft copy of the plan out for review thirty days prior to the deadline. So, that’s by the end of January we have to have a draft plan out there, so this is going to move very fast.”
“If you know anybody, please tell them we’re looking for input and we need it right away.”
That way Ishpeming can receive 75% of the funding for whatever the city deems important enough to invest in from the DNR, and get started on other grants to make up the difference.
In an effort to stay true to its money saving tactics, the city will be fielding input through its Facebook page and surveys that will be available at City Hall.
So if you live in Ishpeming, spread the word and voice your opinion.