BELDING — Members of Belding City Council officially adopted a balanced budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year during Tuesday night’s Belding City Council meeting.
After being first proposed in April and having gone through several revisions, the final version of the budget was presented to council members by City Manager Randy DeBruine Tuesday night and voted through by council members with a 5-0 vote.
“This budget is balanced,” DeBruine said. “We have some healthy fund balances that enable us to do this. The city is in compliance with the city’s budget ordinance and maintains a higher percentage than 10 percent of fund balance ratio, as is required.”
Recent changes to the budget included a transfer to the library fund of $14,039. That transfer was made in order to assist with the costs for the events that transpired earlier in the month with the reinstatement of a library employee. $30,000 was also transferred from the capital improvement fund for work on local streets.
The adoption of the budget did not come without argument from board members, however.
Councilman Joe Feuerstein was displeased with the amount budgeted to spend on attorneys, $75,000, dealing with the Electrolux lawsuit involving the Gibson buildings and site cleanup on the corner of Bridge and Main streets.
“It seems to me all lawyer funds are going toward saving the buildings and not too much is going to the cleanup of the environmental part,” Feuerstein said. “Everyone wants to spend money on that tower, but when I look around, I never hear of any of them.”
Feuerstein then motioned that $50,000 of the $75,000 budgeted for attorney fees be transferred to city street improvements.
Without support from a second council member, the motion died.
Councilman Mike Scheid said he understood where Feuerstein was coming from on the issue, but couldn’t support his motion.
“I would like to see that $50,000 moved over, but we’re still going to have the legal fees no matter what we do,” Scheid said. “We have spent way more money on this than I ever envisioned we would, but I’m afraid if we let them tear down everything, then they are going to run and leave it unusable. If they tear down the buildings, they are going to run, and they are going to run fast.”
Councilman Jon Bunce said if the money was transferred out of the budgeted fund, then Electrolux will have already won.
“I like to see money go for the streets too, but we’ve got legal fees coming up too,” Bunce said. “We’ve still got issues. Electrolux isn’t going to go away. They are going to do everything they can to keep us in court and I don’t want to see that happen.”
Board members also voted 5-0 to approve a request for bids on construction of the Ashfield Street Bridge.
According to DeBruine, the city has submitted a grant to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) for several years with no luck of it ever being accepted.
DeBruine said in response to the deteriorating sidewalks on the bridge and no support from any grants, the city has budgeted $30,000 to repair the bridge.
Twenty-four inches of the west sidewalk face of the bridge will be removed and replaced, as well as 18 inches on the east facing. The new concrete will be anchored down to the deck of the bridge every four feet.
“The goal is to keep the water from getting under the concrete,” DeBruine said. “We really want someone that has bridge experience on this project.”
According to DeBruine, the bridge was constructed in 1995 and the current state of the sidewalks can only be blamed on the standards that MDOT used at the time to construct the bridge.