Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Info

The Village Hall will be closed on Thursday and Friday this week for Thanksgiving. All recycling pick-ups will be a day late due to the holiday.

Friday, November 20, 2009

An Open Memo to Charter Communications

November 19, 2009

Charter Communications
4670 E Fulton Ste 102
Ada, MI 49301

Dear Charter Communications:

Since the conversion to digital broadcast television signals in June, our residents have seen a reduction in the cable service offered to Lake Isabella. As we have previously discussed, this relates to our residents no longer receiving channel 20 (WPBN) as part of their cable package. While the loss of one station in and of itself is not a major issue, our residents have seen a message from Charter on this channel for over 5 months. The message is polite, but leads one to believe that the loss of this channel is only temporary and that Charter is trying to resolve the matter.

I believe that it is safe to say that WPBN is no longer part of our cable package at Lake Isabella and the channel deleted from the available listings. In light of this I am compelled to request that Charter elect one of two options. The first option is simple, a reduction in the monthly service fee to reflect losing 1 of our 48 stations. The other option which I feel could rectify this problem is to replace WPBN with another station.

I believe the second option would be in the best interest of our residents and also Charter. If Charter is serious about this option, I would offer to have a survey in our office for people to recommend a channel and forward the results to your office.

Granted, all of this may become a mute point if Charter is successful in obtaining federal stimulus funds to complete the long overdue upgrade of our cable system. In doing so I am confident that our residents would finally enjoy the level of service that most Charter custumers have.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Tim Wolff
Village Manager

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Salt Barn Taking Shape

The upper half of our salt barn is taking shape. Weather permitting the project should be nearly done sometime next week. Below are pictures taken this afternoon.

A Day in Lansing... Recap

Yesterday I spent the bulk of my day in Lansing. While there I visited the office of our State Senator, Alan Cropsey. Addressing important items of Village business with the our state and federal elected officials is part of my duties as Village Manager, it was not the single reason for my visit.

The Village of Lake Isabella is a member of the Michigan Municipal League. The MML has been advocating for the needs of local units of government since 1899. The position the MML takes on the numerous issues and bills which could impact local government start with recommendations from their policy committees. Presently the MML operates with six committees which make recommendations to the Board of Trustees. Lake Isabella is represented on two of these six committees.

Village President Pro-Tempore Dan Pattison is a member of the Municipal Services Committee. My visit yesterday was the committee I happen to be a member of. The Economic Development and Land Use Committee. This committee is charged with reviewing issues which relate to economic development (Brownfields, TIFs, DDAs...) and land use (planning and zoning).

In recent years the bulk of bills before the committee have dealt with economic development. Hot topics are Brownfields, Liquor Licenses, and help to communities which were connected to the auto industry.

While in Lansing yesterday our committee reviewed and made recommendations on several bills which are at various points in the process of becoming law. In addition to reviewing the bills currently in the legislative process, these committees are often turned to by members of the legislature for insights on how to improve the laws on the books. For example, one member of the legislature submitted a list of all the tax credits allowed under the Michigan Business Tax and asked for feedback on which ones are used by local units to help encourage job creation.

For more info on the MML and their committees, check out their website...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Proposal would change Michigan term limits law

By The Associated Press & Wikipedia
November 12, 2009

The electors of the State of Michigan adopted an amendment to the Michigan Constitution in 1992. This amendment limits the length of time any individual may serve as a member of the Legislature.

Pursuant to this amendment, one may not be elected to the State Senate more than two times or to the State House of Representatives more than three times. The result of this is that there is now considerable turnover in membership in both houses of the legislature.

Formerly, many seats were held by the same office holder for sometimes decades, which is still common for federal offices. Although measures to repeal the term limits amendment have been introduced in both houses since it took effect, none of them have yet reached a vote on the floor of either house or received serious deliberation in the legislature... But that may be about to change.

A bipartisan group of first-year lawmakers is the latest to propose changing Michigan's term limits law for state legislators. The proposal detailed Thursday would continue to limit lawmakers to 14 years in the Legislature but would allow lawmakers to split their time between the House and Senate or spend all 14 years in one chamber. If lawmakers approve the proposal, it would go before voters next August.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Village Office Closed for Veteran's Day

Our office will be closed on Wednesday, November 11th, in remembrance of Veteran's Day. We will resume normal business hours on Thursday.

Monday, November 9, 2009

ZBA Meeting Tonight

Just a reminder that tonight at 5:00 PM there will be a meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals. Three cases will be heard, with each having a public hearing. You can view each respective case file by using the hyperlinks in the meeting agenda found online.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Baseline Road

Several years ago the Village attempted secure funding for road improvements via our local "task force." This task force is comprised of Lake Isabella, Shepherd, Rosebush, the Tribe, ICTC, and the Road Commission. It is charged with developing a multi-year spending plan to allocate state and federal dollars. Lake Isabella had requested in the area of $100,000 for Baseline Road, and $300,000 for Birdie Drive. When funds are awarded from the task force, the local unit is allowed to use the funds to cover up to 80% of the construction cost of the project. The other 20% and all design and engineering costs are covered by the local unit.

In 2006 we actually made it onto the funding schedule. Baseline Road was planned for 2010-2011 and Birdie Drive for 2012-2013. Shortly thereafter we were notified that our roads did not qualify for the program as the roads had to part of the federal collector system. We were told by MDOT that this was done by the Governor to secure as much federal money as possible so more jobs could be created.

Since that time the Village has attempted to have those streets, along with El Camino Grande, classified as rural collectors per the federal system with no luck. Without a change in the status of these roads, they will remain off the list of projects from our local task force.

The Village's capital improvement plan, which is part of our budget, outlines projects for the next 6 years. Baseline Road has not been on our project list for the previous 2 budget cycles due to our inability to secure funding for the project. It was last in our CIP as a long range project (08-09 thru 2012-2013) in the 2007-08 Budget.

Our zoning ordinance requires that all new commercial development be serviced by a paved road (1212.57). In light of the lack of funding for the project, the Village intends to wait for the remaining 9 acres of "green" commercial space to be developed on Baseline Road, and require the developer of that property to pave it. This is a common practice, and is part of ensuring that adequate public services accompany development. Most recently this was done in the Village by the Isabella County Road Commission. When Whispering Pines sought approval for their Site Condo project, the County granted its approval only on the condition that River and Rolland roads be paved where it serviced the development.

So that's the scoop on Baseline Road. If there are any more questions or grading requests please call the Village Hall, email me directly at, or even stop by.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Monday's ZBA Meeting

On our website we've added a new option that we will be testing over the final months of 2009. Starting with Monday's ZBA meeting, we will be working on having more zoning related items online for public inspection. As a first test of this, we have included a digital link in the Agenda to each application under consideration Monday.

Check it out for yourself and let us know what you think. A copy of Monday's ZBA agenda can be found here.

For next year, we are thinking of going even further with digital documents with approved permits posted online. More PDF forms, and tables which we help will better serve you in your planning and zoning needs.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What is that Building?

Slowly taking shape is a new building set far back off from Coldwater Road. While the Drive-Thru addition to Isabella Bank is front and center for all to see, one other project is going on in the Village.

Located behind Mt. Pleasant Excavating the Village is having a new salt storage facility constructed. Last year environmental tests showed that our former salt building was causing ground water contamination. In reviewing the options, it became clear the best solution was to construct a new facility designed under the guidelines of the DEQ's and the American Salt Institute.

Once completed, the new building will triple the amount of salt and salt/sand mix the Village is able to store at one time. This will help reduce operating costs as our ability to buy in bulk will increase. The Village purchases road salt through a program run by the State of Michigan. Under the program local units of government are able to buy "early delivery" and "in season" salt shipments. Typically the early delivery runs about $5 per ton less than the in season salt.

In a typical winter the Village will use in the ballpark of 200 tons of salt. Most of which is mixed with sand to form a 50-50 blend. With our former building we were limited to shipments of only 50 tons. With our new building we should be able to accommodate 100 to 150 tons with ease.

In place currently are the cast-in-place walls and the asphalt pad for the site. In about 2 weeks the Village expects to see the side walls and roof arrive and the building completed. Below is a photo from another location with a building similar in style to what ours will look like once completed (except for the block walls).

Election Day

Today is the 2009 general election date. Lake Isabella residents have one issue to vote on. Our local school district has the renewal of their 18 mills non-homestead operating millage on the ballot. The 18 mills are levied against non-homestead residential properties and commercial/industrial properties. The polling place for Lake Isabella residents is the Weidman Elementary.

If you have never been there before, simply take Coldwater Road north until it turns into School Road. Keep going north and the School is on the right hand side just as you enter Weidman.

As is the case with all elections, please bring a photo ID in order to vote.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Michigan has a Budget...

Governor Granholm Friday signed the FY 2009-10 general government budget, which includes funding for revenue sharing to local government. In her accompanying letter, Granholm remained concerned about the cuts to local governments and the lack of revenue sharing funding provided by the budget. She again called on the Legislature to supply additional dollars and assure appropriate revenue sharing payments in support of critical local services.

The budget contains an overall 11.1-percent decrease to revenue sharing from FY 2008-09 (the reduction is to the combined total of constitutional and statutory revenue sharing payments to each community). When looking at only statutory revenue sharing (the dollars the Legislature can control), the FY 2009-10 budget averages to a 19-percent decrease to communities.

The total budget for revenue sharing to cities, villages and townships in the general government budget is $936.3 million. $622.15 million of that total is constitutional revenue sharing, and $314.15 million is statutory revenue sharing.

Lake Isabella is projected to have a reduction of 4.1% in the new state budget. The Village's total payments for the state's upcoming fiscal year is projected to be just over $78,000. This is just outside of the projected $79,000 that the Village's 2009-2010 budget was based on. According to the State of Michigan, the communities hardest hit in Isabella County will be the City of Mt. Pleasant and the Village of Shepherd, each seeing a cut of 11.1%. Mt. Pleasant's cut is projected to be nearly $315,000 which is more than the entire General Fund budget for the Village of Lake Isabella.