City looks at referendum to fund new equipment

ISHPEMING — With the end of the year fast approaching, budgets are on the top of many municipal agendas.

The Ishpeming City Council approved the city’s 2017 budget Tuesday morning, and this year, the city will be looking to the voters to help buy some new equipment for the Public Works and Fire Departments.

Thanks in part to reductions in state revenue sharing and increasing costs for items such as employee retirement funds, the budget came up short this year in reference to equipment replacement. That’s why city officials will be putting a referendum on ballots in the coming year asking residents to fund significant equipment purchases to replace pieces that officials say are continually becoming more expensive to fix.

“The longer we try to maintain them, the more they’re costing and the less reliable they are — more likely to break down in the middle of a critical operation and put someone in danger — so we feel that now is the itme to go forward with that,” said City Manager Mark Slown. “Obviously, it will be up to the voters to decide if they want to support that proposition that we will put before them.”

The details of that proposition are still in the works, but Slown said they have been looking at a proposed one mill tax levy.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the City Council also approved their SAW grant agreement, which will give the city over $1 million to put toward evaluation and mapping of the city’s sewer and water infrastructure for a matching contribution of around $100,000.