Collison suggests stipends for city committee members as vacancies mount

By Ralph Echtinaw

Eight vacancies on city committees were discussed at Tuesday’s city council meeting with Councilman Roger Collison suggesting financial compensation for committee members, who now serve without pay.

Specifically, he suggested a “small stipend” of $25 per meeting for committee members.

There are currently two vacancies on the Cemetery Committee, two on the Compensation Commission, two on Parks and Recreation, one on the Planning Commission and one on Zoning Board of Appeals.

Councilman Tom Reed said, “I don’t believe we should be paid for (committee meetings), but I’ve got to give it some more thought.”

Councilman Bill Leonard is against it: “I don’t think a stipend is the answer,” he said. “As far as volunteering (is concerned), I think the great American public is basically clueless, afraid to step up to bat and just plain doesn’t want to get involved. It’s always somebody else who should do it. But nobody wants to do it. I don’t know the answer to try to reach out to people and say, ‘Hey, you’re a citizen, live here in St. Louis, pay your taxes. You should become more involved.”

Citizen Karen Aumaugher suggested that something might be done publicly to thank residents who serve voluntarily with no pay on city committees. “Everybody likes to hear they’re doing a good job,” she said.

There was general agreement with Aumaugher’s idea but no further discussion ensued.

Finance Director Bobbi Marr said she will check to see if any other cities pay committee members.

Call city hall at (989) 681-2137 if you’d like to serve on a city committee.

Meter reading equipment

The city’s automated meter reading system that has been in place since 2006 is in need of a costly upgrade, said City Manager Kurt Giles. 

The brains of the system, which makes 3,000 individual meter readings per month, is housed in a climate controlled enclosure under the Crawford Street water tower.

“With the age of this equipment, we believe we should have it replaced in the very near future,” Giles said.

Giles checked with ETNA Supply, the vendor for the equipment, and learned that “the price is a lot more than I guessed it might be.” About $50,000.

Giles said he will get more information and report back to council.

Server purchase

Speaking of sophisticated electronic equipment, council approved purchase of a storage array and two VM host servers from Rehmann of Grandville, Mich. for $39,807.

The new apparatus will replace equipment that is seven years old.

The city’s phone system, centralized files, tax records, utility billing, video surveillance storage and wireless access routing are controlled by this equipment.

And it’s overdue for replacement, as it was originally budgeted to be replaced last year, according to Finance Director Bobbi Marr.

Other components of the system include patch panels, switches, firewalls and a zone director for wireless access, Giles said.

Cemetery paving

Council approved spending $10,800 with Central Asphalt of Mt. Pleasant to resurface the cemetery chapel parking lot.

Central Asphalt beat Rite-Way Asphalt of Shepherd for the contract. Rite-Way’s bid was $11,321.

M46 beautification

Council approved spending $8,802 with Seifert Concrete to power wash and reseal 8,800 square feet of decorative concrete on M46. “We have ample funds in our sidewalk account to cover this expense,” said DPW Superintendent Mark Abbott.

The decorative, colored concrete was first poured in 2003. Additional squares were poured this year, replacing trees that were removed. “It’s pretty quilt looking now,” Abbott said. But the power washing and resealing should make it look “a lot more similar. It might not be perfect but it will be way better.”

Old US 27 Motor Tour is back!

Ramereiz told councilmen that the popular annual classic car cruise from Coldwater to Cheboygan that took a virus vacation last year is back for 2021.

The cruise begins Aug. 23 in Coldwater with stops in Dewitt, St. Johns, Ithaca, Alma, St. Louis, Clare, Harrison, Grayling, Gaylord, Wolverine and Cheboygan.

The cars will be in St. Louis 3:15 to 5:15 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 26.  They will be parked on Mill Street between North Street and M46. Police will close Mill Street to traffic at 1 p.m. that day so the cruise cars can park there.

Church event 

Councilmen granted permission for Straight Gate Church Pastor Thomas Ewer to host a revival in Clapp Park from noon to dusk on Saturday, Oct. 2, consisting of live worship music, a message and time of prayer to observe the Feast of Tabernacles.

Councilman Tom Reed said it might be wise to give nearby residents a heads up on the event because it will be noisy.

Chief Ramereiz said the high school band and a steel band has played there before with no complaints.

Abbott said he remembers no complaints following past events in Clapp Park.

Geese in the road

Karen Aumaugher, who lives on Michigan Avenue near Lions Park, attended Tuesday’s meeting to pass on a complaint from a friend who is upset because geese are occasionally struck by cars.

She suggested fencing, signs, or a light that interrupts the sleep of geese and might keep them out of Lions Park.

Ramereiz said motorists who feed geese are part of the problem. “If we could get people to stop feeding them that would be a great benefit. (But) there’s no law against it. Maybe we could hire one of those airport dogs, make it a city dog, leave it out there to chase the birds away from the roadway. It’s a popular thing at airports, and it works there.”

Mayor James Kelly said his experience is that everyone stops to let geese cross the road when they get that inclination, adding that geese are all over Penny Park, too, and frequently cross Prospect Street. “Everybody that I’ve seen has been more than willing to stop and wait for the geese to get out of the way.”

Abbott said that geese with bad wings you can see without looking too hard have NOT been hit by cars. The bad wings are birth defects.

Reed suggested urging residents in the next city newsletter to refrain from feeding the geese.

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