City Council Update, May 6, 2024

City Council Update, May 6, 2024

Council discussed the City Manager's replacement and a potential plan for improving city policies and procedures. We approved a union contract with our Public Safety Dispatchers but denied a residential daycare over safety concerns. Other topics discussed included Coolidge Road updates and questions about and improvements to our budget process.

City Manager Search

Before the main meeting, Council held a work session to get an update about the City Manager search. We agreed on the language for the job posting, the advertising budget, and the first part of the community outreach plan. 

However, Interim Manager Gienzer proposed a strategic delay. His suggestion is to spend some time improving some of the city's policies and processes so that when the permanent manager starts they are set up for success. 

Council asked Mr. Gienzert to prepare a more detailed proposal. We expect to review that at our May 20 meeting and likely make a decision on next steps. 

Denial of Residential Daycare

Council unanimously denied the special land use request for a daycare at a home at Mortenson and Princeton. 

The reason for the denial was that because the home has no off-street parking, there was not a safe loading and unloading zone for children. 

This choice to consider daycares in our residential districts is not a decision the city made. State law requires us to allow any in-home daycare for 1 to 6 children. For 7 to 12 kids, the city has some say in the matter, which is why the request came before us. 

The applicant has stated they plan to open regardless of Council's decision. State law will still allow them up to 6 children. 

Budget Discussion 

Council had a lengthy discussion on the budget centered around three points.

The first is a request for more detail about Internal Services and the Solid Waste fund. Those should be available at our next Council meeting. 

The second discussion point was the need for better information on our infrastructure, such as equipment and building lifespan and maintenance schedules. This will help us make more accurate financial forecasts. 

The final piece discussed was the need to do a better job telling the story of our city finances. We should discuss not just what we are doing, but why we are doing it and how it leads us to accomplish our goals for the city. 

Coolidge Road Changes

The road diet will remain, but the paint markings will be updated and a few changed. 

Lines will be added showing where parking spots are. We expect it will help make it clear the parking lane is not for travel and cut down on people cutting through. 

On southbound Coolidge just north of 12 Mile, the right lane will be made a right turn only lane. This is to avoid the fast merge just south of 12 and matches the configuration at 11 and Coolidge. 

The city will try and warn residents of the upcoming changes ahead of time, but this particular contractor often shows up with little notice, so the warning might be short. 

Other Agenda Items

Eagle Scout Candidate Jack Elliot was recognized for all of his contributions to Berkley Parks & Rec as part of his Eagle Scout project. 

Council approved a one-year extension with of the DPW contract and approved the first union contract with our public safety dispatchers. 

The road closure for the Berkley Dad's Club opening day parade was approved. It will take place on June 1 starting at the High School at 10am and ending at the baseball field near the Community Center. 

We accepted a $100,000 grant to help cover the costs of lead line replacements and inventory. 

We reaffirmed our participation in the WaterTowns grant initiative. If approved, Berkley will get several rain gardens installed, likely at the community center and Bacon Park. Much of the discussion involved making sure any new work we put in can be adequately maintained. We may be seeking volunteers to help us keep the rain gardens operating properly. 

The city entered into a license agreement with Garden Central to use their parking lot as public parking. The city is working on a plan to expand the number of municipal lots we have throughout the city. To build one this size would cost approximately $20,000 per spot, or $400,000. This doesn't include the cost to acquire the land. Under this deal, we'll be able to start using the full lot for an investment of less than $10,000.

We were able to renegotiate an upcoming HVAC project and reduce the cost by $67,000.

Meeting Info

The meeting packet