STANTON — The problem with the financial planning of many municipalities, according to Stanton City Manager James Freed, is that they don’t think far enough into the future. Most communities, he explained to city commissioners at Tuesday’s regular meeting, think no more that 12 months ahead.
He wants commissioners to look at least six years into the future and plan now for expenditures likely to pop up along the way. To that end, Freed presented to the commission an outline for a six-year capital improvement plan, one that takes into account major items such as road work, water and sewer and parks improvement, as well as smaller expenses like office furniture and computers.
By planning ahead, current and future commissioners will not be “blindsided” by unexpected expenditures, Freed explained.
“I compare this to holding a long stick,” Freed said. “Just a little movement on this end makes a big difference on the other end.”
Now that the city’s major water and sewer renovations are completed — the work took place last summer throughout the community — Freed and the commission are determined to keep the system updated and running to peak efficiency. The tentative plan calls for water main repairs and replacement through fiscal year 2019-2020, along with such projects as exterior painting of the town’s water tower.
New Department of Public Works and police vehicles also are included in the plan, as are sidewalk replacements, new curb and gutter and a host of other civic projects.
This long term approach, Freed said, will provide the community with additional financial stability, which could conceivably help attract new business to the area. Freed added that Lakeview, where he also serves as village manager, has a similar plan in place.
“This shows to the business community that we have a long term investment in keeping this community vibrant,” Freed said. “It shows that we’re not short sighted. Our multi-year balanced budgets demonstrate to the business community that our community is a stable and secure place to invest capital and create jobs.”
Though no action was taken on the plan by commissioners at this time, the report was positively received. Commissioners will likely act on it later in June or July.
In other commission business, Department of Public Works Director Jeff Main reported that some residents have had water line breaks due to the unusually low temperatures this winter. The breaks, he said, have occurred beyond the city maintained service lines.
The frost line, he added, is four to five feet deep this year; water mains are buried anywhere between five to six feet deep. However, due to all the upgrades to the water mains last summer, the number of breaks and other problems is far lower than last winter.
Freed noted that, if the Arctic-like temps continue, he may issue a notice to city residents to run their water at a slow drip constantly to avoid freezing of water lines.
The commission also discussed the plan to plant new trees throughout the city this summer. Freed said that a commissioned study has identified several types of tress that will thrive in the soil types found throughout the city. Commissioners will soon be called upon to select four or five varieties from the recommendations.
“They’re cognizant of putting the right trees under the power lines, right?” asked Mayor Monica Daws-Tissue. Freed noted that all factors had been taken into consideration in selecting the trees.
“Yes, they’re recommending the right tree for the right place,” Freed said.
The city is going with a wide variety of trees for the replanting to avoid the possibility of a “deforestation” similar to the one currently being brought about in the state by the emerald ash borer. By planting several different varieties, even if some blight occur, the other varieties would survive.
In addition to the trees the city will be planting on public property, trees also will be made available for sale to area residents for planting on private land.