By Sue Moore
A Village of Vicksburg police officer’s presence in the high school was part of the budget discussions of the Village Council in October. A recommendation by Chief Eric West to continue, but cut back to a three days instead of five, was accepted by the Council and was welcomed by the school administration as well.
The Vicksburg school officer was also deputized by the sheriff’s department so he could be called outside the village to help at the Indian Lake and Tobey schools if necessary without having to seek permission each time he needed to patrol there.
A tightening of the police department personnel and all other areas of the Village budget of one percent of revenues, amounting to $48,000, was part of a package presented to the Michigan Department of Treasury in an October letter. The State had rejected the first two proposals submitted because the village relied too much on the sale of excess village properties that might not happen, should legitimate buyer not be found in time to balance the budget.
A major push to sell the 13.2 acres available in the village industrial park on the south side of Prairie Street is being handled by realtor Ted Vliek, Jr. This is a concentrated attempt to bring new businesses into the village and also meet the $100,000 in property sales per year that the state would like to see in the village deficit reduction plan.
The Council, in its strategic planning has sought to refinance its debt load, some of it at 6 percent down to a more manageable 1 percent to 3.25 percent, thus being able to afford some infrastructure improvements that are deemed important to the future growth of the village, according to President Bill Adams.
In keeping with the need to finish the asphalt coating of the parking lot at Angels Crossing, the Village sought and received a $60,000 grant from the Vicksburg Foundation for this purpose. The lot has only one layer of coverage and engineers have indicated it will further deteriorate if not dealt with very soon. Village officials didn’t want to see it get worse and have to be completely replaced, according to Ken Schippers, interim village manager, so they sought help from the Foundation.
Another large grant from the Vicksburg Foundation was also announced at the October meeting of $100,000 to secure the final piece of property owned by developers of the South County Mill. This brings all parts of the old Simpson Paper Mill under the auspices of the Kalamazoo County Land Bank, which has quickly moved to board up the broken windows and place security cameras in strategic places around the area.
One expenditure of $625 for membership in the Kalamazoo County Household Hazardous Waste program was approved, which will allow any village resident to drop off items for free. This service was dropped several years ago and Council members believe it will be a nice cost savings to residents and a small price to pay for a disposal service such as this.