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Schoolcraft Village Council Hears About Transit and Budget

By Michael C. Reed

The village-wide once-a-year trash pick-up was a source of frustration for the Schoolcraft village council. Best Way Disposal was the only bidder on the contract and numerous new restrictions will apply to the one-time spring trash pick-up, thereby making it more cost-effective. Non-residents occasionally bring in their trash and leave it on a curb, costing the village more as Best Way prices their service by the ton. A village representative will ride with the drivers so they will know whose trash to pick up. Spring cleanup is scheduled on April 25.

Lutz recommended that the village provide curb-side collection again for one more year) in 2015, but with more restrictions. President Keith Gunnett agreed, saying that, otherwise, refuse and garbage may start turning up in unwanted places.

There was discussion of the Village’s annual contract with Kalamazoo County for Hazardous Household Waste drop off on Lamont Street, next to the jail. A current sticking point is that the county has eliminated Saturday hours as a result of low usage and a lack of staffing and training. As a result, at the January 5 council meeting it was decided not to renew the service for 2015. But council members last month reversed the decision and let village residents know that it remains a free service for them.

Transit issues came to the fore at the February council meeting as John Gisler, county commissioner for District 8, said he wants to see south county push for improved, more affordable transit. For now, it will continue to be possible for seniors, 62 or older, and disabled persons in Schoolcraft to ride into downtown Kalamazoo for $4, with the return trip another $4.

He said that 10-12 years ago Schoolcraft started using the Kalamazoo County van service, Metro County Connect (MCC). The county-wide .4-mil tax pays for MCC, but Gisler said that communities like Portage and Oshtemo benefit from the service without having to pay for it. He expressed concern that Schoolcraft citizens are not always getting a fair transit deal given the taxes they pay.

Gisler said later that, “Under the new plan, all jurisdictions that receive bus service will pay the ‘urban’ millage of an estimated .75 mills. Jurisdictions such as Schoolcraft that receive only the Metro County Connect van service will pay the new ‘rural’ millage of an estimated .25-.3 mills.”

Lutz said that in fiscal year 2015/16 the general fund budget calls for $782,990), down a bit from previous years. Last year, $39,210 was used from the fund balance to offset a deficit. “We really watch our budget carefully,” she said. “We are financially healthy.”

Lutz does not favor the elimination of administrative staff salary increases and bonuses, which would save around $12,000. She said, “We have a small staff with a very large work load.”

Faith Akert, Village clerk/treasurer, said the water fund is to be paid off this year. The equipment fund, established about six years ago, calls for the purchase of a John Deere tractor ($26,000).

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