The Ludington City Council held a special meeting yesterday. Goals from the last meeting, which occurred in 2014, included developing a special events policy for 2015, public infrastructure funding, rental inspections, and assessing city walkability regarding motorized, non-motorized trails and sidewalks. Infrastructure and walkability were identified as goals that were still in progress. City council members and department heads went onto discuss the progress of their work and how to increase city revenue. Communication with the public was a concern brought up frequently; a newsletter was suggested to inform the public of ongoing city council matters. Some members cited concern at the current projects slated, suggesting rolling back plans for the west end project. Maintenance costs were also brought up as an expense, with council members concerns about not only upcoming projects, but also with existing structures such as roads or bathrooms. Police Chief Barnett and City Manager John Shay explained that the largest expense is personnel costs in the form of wages and benefits for city workers such as police officers and DPW workers, many of which already took a pension cut in the last year.
John Shay further explained ideas brought up at the December 2016 meeting to increase revenue, including the highly debated possible beach parking fees. He clarified that this was no proposal, but rather an idea that was being research by the council. He also explained what other cities have done to implement parking fees, including implementing the fee only on a seasonal basis from Memorial day to Labor day and only from 10:00a.m. until 6:00p.m. Councillor Winczewski then moved to review the current ideas for goals and come back together to formally set which four the council would like to focus on during the year.
Then, the meeting was opened to public comment. Although many were expecting to hear about beach parking, it was maintenance costs and water bottles that arose as a theme. Diane Sealoff, a 4th ward resident, focused on the ongoing water costs that will be incurred by the new Splash Pad to be built at Copeyon Park, which by her calculations would reach into the millions. Others focused on the lack of good paying jobs in the area, talking about how many are struggling in their minimum wage jobs with the increasing costs of living. The council was encouraged to focus on bringing good business into Ludington in order to encourage economic growth. A final suggestion to the council was to think bigger, suggesting that they sell the idea of a millage to the public in order to properly support all city departments.