Friday, January 29, 2010

2010 Master Plan Survey is Online!

As part of updating the Master Plan for the community, the Village of Lake Isabella has launched an online survey. The survey of about 40 questions can be taken by clicking on the link provided on the Village’s homepage ( The link to the survey will be on the Village’s website until the start of business on Monday, March 1st. On Friday, January 29th the Village mailed 1,593 postcards to all property owners and non-owner residents inviting them to take the survey.

For residents who are unable to take the survey online, the Village has printed copies which can be mailed to them. All they need to do is contact the Village Hall to request a copy.

By going online with the survey as opposed to traditional printed surveys, the Village will be able to save between $3,000 and $6,000. In addition to this cost savings, since the surveys are counted as they are submitted, results will be ready as soon as the survey closes.

The last survey conducted by the Village was done in early 2005 as part of the last Master Plan update. Since then the community has seen numerous changes which were guided in large part by the direction provided from that survey. That survey was also conducted “in house,” however it was a printed survey of over 100 questions with results tallied by Village staff and volunteers over several months.

High among the residents’ wishes in 2005 were natural gas service, paving local streets, and high speed internet access.

The Village was able to successfully carry out those wishes to varying degrees. In 2006 high speed internet access came via wireless service from Winntel on a service tower located on Queens Way. Since 2006 additional companies have also added Lake Isabella to their service area. Still on hold is word from Charter Communications regarding the Village’s grant to upgrade the cable system at Lake Isabella. This update would not only provide quality cable television service, but also additional broadband access.

In 2007 the Village undertook an extensive street paving project of over 13 miles, leaving only a handful of local streets untouched per the request of a majority of property owners on those streets. The Village has also adopted a long-range asset management plan for their street network, and includes these long-range projects in the Capital Improvement Budget which is annually adopted by the Village Council.

In 2008 DTE/MichCon developed a natural gas infrastructure for most of the northern half of the Village servicing about 600 homes. Then in 2009 Consumers Energy proposed building out the remaining un-serviced areas in southern Lake Isabella totaling about 180 homes. That project stalled after an insufficient number of residents opted for the service being offered by Consumers.

The new survey not only covers future infrastructure desires, but also provides property owners with a chance to express their desires for any public new services and other quality of life issues.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

FY 2008-2009 Audit

After our last Village Council, our most recent audit reflecting the 2008-2009 Fiscal Year was placed online. This audit, and several of past audits can all be found on website on the History & Reference Materials page. In addition to the audit, Yeo & Yeo also provides a summary report of comments concerning the financial management and oversight of the Village. This report is also hyperlinked on the same page.

The Village is pleased to report that once again we were issued a "clean opinion," which is the best that can be issued. This year also saw no comments on areas where additional oversight and policy adoption are needed.

Coming next month to the Village's website will be a survey for our Master Plan update. One of the questions on this survey asks for your desire to see us post additional financial documents online. We look forward to the feedback from the surveys. If you have any questions pertaining to the audit, please feel free to call the Village Hall 644.8654

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Stimulus Funding Map

The State of Michigan has created an interactive map showing how funds from President Obama's "stimulus package" have been released and spent. The map can be found here.

The map is broken down by counties, and provides a summary report of which agencies have received funds in the county that is clicked on. Municipalities in Isabella County have not fared too well under the program. The only city or village to see funds is the City of Mt. Pleasant. In addition to the city, Isabella County, and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe have received funds. Along with many of the local school districts.

One of the main factors in why funds have not been seen by the other local units of government in Isabella County was the funding system approved by the legislation. The administration allowed the funds to "pass through" the states before reaching local communities. In more than a few cases the state used the funds to plug their own budget gaps. For the funds that were not used to cover the state's shortfall, the money was put into existing programs.

This took away the ability of many smaller units of government from having access. Michigan designates certain "Core Communities" which have greater access to state and federal funding. In certain cases non-core communities are shut out entirely.

In terms of road funding, money was added to the rural and urban task forces. Lake Isabella is a member of the rural task force. However, in order for funds to be captured and used locally, the road has to be a "rural major collector" or above on the "National Functional Classification System." The only roads in and around Lake Isabella which meet this level of classification are Drew, Coldwater, River, and Rolland. All of which are under the jurisdiction of the Isabella County Road Commission.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tuesday's Planning Commission Meeting

Online is a copy of Tuesday's Planning Commission agenda. The business items on the agenda have been hyperlinked, so you can see what the bulk of the meeting entials, not just the agenda. The Village started doing this late last year with the ZBA agendas, and hope to expand it as we work through 2010.

The first business item on Tuesday's agenda is a review and discussion of the upcoming Master Plan Survey. This survey will be done online unlike past surveys which have been paper based. In going online, the Village hopes to dramatically cut down on costs and increase the speed by which results are published. Right now the "in the works" schedule for the survey has the community opinion survey on our website during the month of February.

Prior to that, the Village plans to mail out postcards to all residents and property owners inviting them to take the survey. For those who cannot take the survey online, paper copies will be at the Village Hall.

In addition to the survey, the Planning Commission is also going to consider the drafted language to place an expiration date on approved variances. At the December meeting, the Planning Commission opted for a 12 month period of validity, with a possible 6 month extension. As part of the discussion the Planning Commission is also going to review the entire ZBA code to see if there are any changes to our procedures that may be desired.

If you would like to comment on any of these items please feel free to attend Tuesday's meeting, or send us an email.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

So Far, So Good...

Unlike last year, this winter has been decent in terms of the Village's snow plowing budget... so far! While we are actually still above our 10 year average in terms of the number of service events, the duration of the time plowing is down considerably from last year.

Through the end of December, the Village has seen 16 winter service events. A winter service event is anytime our trucks are working. This includes plowing, salting, sanding, drift control, and cul-de-sac and intersection cleaning.

Our average for a typical winter season is only 12.5 events for November and December. But, most of the events this year have been for drift control, salting, and minor cleaning. We have only had the one big storm, and nowhere close to the 4+ feet of snow we had last December.

In terms of budgeting, there are two ways to gauge the winter. The first is using an equal distribution method. This gives the bookend months of November and April each 10% of the total budget. The remaining 80% is given equally to December, January, February, and March.

The other method bases budget expense guidelines on historical trends. This breakdown only gives the month of November 4.5% of the total budget. Likewise, April only sees 0.8% of the total winter budget. Not only does this method give a more realistic foundation for the budget, but also is not nearly as depressing as it shows only 4 solid months of winter, and not the 6 that the equal distribution method does.

As of December 31st, the Village has spent only 17.7% of our winter budget. When all of this is dumped into a spreadsheet, it looks like this:

The resulting graph from this spreadsheet is seen at the top of this post. What is in store for the rest of the winter? Nobody knows for certain. Historical trends show that January is good for 12 service events, February sees about 10 or 11, and March 6 events.

However, if by Divine mercy it got very mild, I'm sure we could live with that too!

Monday, January 4, 2010

2010 Recycling Dates

With a new year upon us, it is time for you update your recycling calendars. On our website you can find the new calendar for 2010. The pickup days are still Thursday & Friday, every other week, starting this week! The only exceptions are Thanksgiving week and Christmas week, for details on those changes, please reference the calendar.

2010 Recycling Calendar