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Lowell council discusses income tax, street repairs

Lowell city council had their latest regular meeting at city hall on Monday, June 3. The meeting lasted 50 minutes and was attended by 10 citizens.

The council passed one ordinance and two resolutions that pave the way for the question of a city income tax to be presented to voters in the Nov. 5 election. Although all three of these were passed 4-0 by the council (mayor Michael DeVore was absent), none would take effect until Jan. 1, 2020, and then only if voters approve in November. The ordinance would add a section called "Chapter 26: City Income Tax" to the city's code of ordinances. The first resolution would change the city charter to authorize an income tax. The second resolution would change the city charter to limit property taxes whenever a city income tax is in effect.

“If you adopt this resolution tonight, the next step is we have to submit the language that will appear on the ballot to the governor for her approval and to the Michigan attorney general for her approval,” said city attorney Dick Wendt.

Expect to hear plenty more from city hall about the income tax, they plan to launch an extensive public education campaign very soon.

Lowell is applying for a $375,000 “Small Urban Project” grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation to pay for a large portion of the reconstruction of Monroe St.

“Estimated road construction costs are around approximately $750,000 for Monroe,” said city manager Michael Burns. “That's just the street component, and the city would need to come up with the remaining costs, which equates to about $420,000 since we would be eligible for about $375,000. [...] Monroe is a major street, and as of today we have about $300,000 in fund balance in the major street account and we would anticipate having more by the time the project would begin in three years. In addition, since we are proposing water and sewer work on the street, those funds could be used for a portion of the street repairs.”

The city is planning to sue the “Riverview Flats” condo project developers. There are power, cable and Internet wires buried on the property. These wires were apparently installed without anybody first obtaining the legally required easements. Depending on when the wires were installed, the land was then owned by either the city or Lowell Area Schools. See the story on page 4,891 for more information about that project.

“On Friday, May 10 our attorney sent notice to their attorney for a good faith offer for the Unity School power lines,” Burns said. “We have not received a response from their attorney, so we will be filing paperwork for litigation this week.”

The council voted to spend $23,500 to have Lowell-based Risner's Roofing & Home Improvement fix the roof of the city-owned “Foreman Building” after it was damaged by wind on Thursday, April 25. The building is used by the Public Works department to store equipment. The city filed an insurance claim and Grand Rapids-based insurance adjuster Chenard & Osborn provided a claim estimate.

Lowell city council's next regular meeting will be at 7 pm on Monday, June 17. The council will also meet with the public at a “Coffee with the Council” event at Lowell Chamber of Commerce headquarters on the Riverwalk from 8 until 10 am on Saturday, July 6.

To watch various city council, board and commission meetings from the recent past, visit the "City of Lowell" channel on YouTube.

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