BPW questions need for some projects
As the time for preparing next year's budget draws nearer, members of the Marshall Municipal Utilities Board of Public Works are questioning the need for some requested projects.
While the final budget isn't due for several months, MMU General Manager Paul Jensen took time at Wednesday's meeting of the board to provide a list of small projects which other department directors deemed necessary for the coming year. However, some of the board members took issue with several items on the list.
Board member Chuck Hird said that if he personally doesn't have the money to fix a light or replace a door at his house he does without until he can fix them. The replacement of two doors, 10 locking door knobs and 13 light fixtures were included in the project list from the Environmental Services Department and totaled $6,200.
Hird recommended that only those projects which would pay for themselves in six months be approved. He said any other expenditures would require an increase in rates for MMU customers.
"If we don't decide we're going to raise rates, we're going to have to be cautious about spending any money," Hird said.
Jensen said the "world won't come to an end" if some of the projects are delayed, but added the majority need to be completed. He warned that just because the projects are small, they are not insignificant.
"If you let the little things go, they can become an insurmountable thing," Jensen said. "I guess it comes down to where do you draw the line." Board President Mike Mills questioned another project for not going far enough.
The project list included a $4,000 item for winterizing a tarp lean-to around the water treatment plant's chlorine feeder. He said it was obvious that MMU could not afford the $700,000 needed to build a new chlorine facility, but added he would like to ensure that the chlorine is secure.
Environmental Services Director Ginny Ismay said the location of the chlorine unit is in a low-traffic area so the chances of a vehicle striking it are minimal. The most important thing is that the unit stay warm because if it does not it will not feed chlorine properly.
Rather than make hasty decisions on which projects to pursue, Mills instructed the other board members to take time and "digest" the list presented to them. He said the small projects would be considered by the board when it looks at the larger projects also included in the budget.