By Sue Moore
In the wake of some questionable financial practices revealed last year, Vicksburg Trustee James Earl at a March council meeting pledged better, sounder village government henceforth.
“We will be a much better government moving forward,” he said in a statement. Earl said he is making a “commitment to change our paradigms. It is time to throw out the old way of doing things. We will do things the right way every time. We will do things better than we ever have. We will create a culture that cultivates a high level of customer service for all of our citizens. We will create a culture that makes everyone proud to be a Vicksburg resident.”
His statement was made in part to clarify the audit report and the impending budget planning process that the council is facing this spring. “Reaching our goals will require a level of analysis and transparency that has likely never been seen in Vicksburg,” he said. “We must adapt our goals and our expectations based on sound governmental practices. We must continuously improve our performance in every department, including this Council, to meet these new expectations. The expectations are to make Vicksburg the best village in America, where the residents and our visitors receive ‘wow!’ service.”
Village Manager Jim Mallery at the next meeting in March, introduced policy changes to council rules of order that call for the meetings to be run more efficiently. Residents will have four minutes to comment on agenda items at the beginning of each meeting. For non-agenda items, there will be three minutes allotted at the end of each meeting. Each speaker will be asked to come to the podium, state name and address, and address any questions directly to the council president and not individual council members.
In other business, the Council approved a change to the Brownfield Authority membership that put all of its members on the authority with separate lengths of service defined. They added village residents Steve Goss and Don DeBruin for their expertise in business and finance. The village is expecting possible applications from local entities in the near future so it will be imperative that the council members gain an understanding of this tool for economic development in the village, Mallery said.
Spending on resurfacing major and local streets in the village was discussed. The council granted approval to subcontract with the Kalamazoo County Road Commission to bid the paving of the major streets planned for improvements. Repair of the storm drain pipe at the corner of Boulevard and W. Prairie Street was approved for the village’s DPW crew to fix.
Danna Downing presented her yearly report on the South County Community Services (SCCS) activities with her usual passionate review. She introduced Diane Durian, who is in the midst of conducting a senior services outreach campaign, funded in part by the Vicksburg United Way. She related that there are 3,000 seniors in the south county service area. A third live in poverty; 700 live by themselves. She is making in-person calls on seniors to determine the extent of services they are likely to need now and in the future.