BESSEMER - The Bessemer City Council heard an update on the proposed bond referendum. Tuesday, from Dave Radovich, superintendent of the Bessemer Area School District.
Radovich spoke about the proposed 20-year, $4.9 million referendum on the ballot May 6, and how it will help with technology, infrastructure and security upgrades, as well as make both A.D. High School Johnston School and Washington Elementary School more energy efficient.
"We have to go green," Radovich said. "We are very inefficient right now."
The referendum is for 3.9 mills, and with the old bond expiring in 2018, the average millage rate for the 20-year bond is 5.15 mills.
Radovich asked for the council's support.
"A city and school work hand-in-hand," Radovich said. "When you have a good city, you have a good school. When you have a good school, you have a good city."
The possible consolidation between the Bessemer and Wakefield-Marenisco School districts was also brought up. According to Radovich, the buildings need improvements.
"Whether or not we consolidate, we need to improve our buildings," Radovich said. "We need to keep them up to par, and if we don't, and we consolidate, we will lose our buildings."
The board approved to loan $10,000 to the Gogebic Range Solid Waste Authority to help with the Waste Management buyout.
According to city manager Michael Uskiewicz, all of the municipalities involved with the solid waste authority are supplying funds to the effort.
The $10,000 fee will be paid back to the city as a credit on its bills.
Mayor Butch Semmerling expressed his frustrations with the funding request.
"This is mismanagement on their part," Semmerling said. "If we needed the funding, we could go to the bank with a line of credit. They need to fix this."
A "reluctant" motion to pay the fee was made by board member Doug Olson. The motion was approved 4-1, with Semmerling voting against it.
The council also approved the purchase of updated software. The cost is $12,000-13,000 to update all of the computers.
A motion was approved to purchase half of the software during this current budget, and the rest during next year's budget.
A resident approached the council to have a standard bill fee for water, sewer and garbage waived for him due to the fact he can't live in his house.
Tom Lowry said he was sick with the flu and had to be taken to the hospital for one week. While in the hospital, his gas was shut off due to problems with his furnace and his water was shut off.
He hasn't been in his house since January, and has not used water, sewer or garbage collection since January.
According to Uskiewicz, the fee is on everyone's bill, whether they are using the services or not. He said the policy has caused many people to complain, but the city has always stuck with the policy.
Board member Linda Nelson questioned whether or not the council would set a precedent for having the fee waived for Lowry.
"If we did this for you, we would have to do this for everyone out of town or on vacation during the year," Nelson said.
Semmerling agreed with Nelson, and the board gave Lowry advice on different programs in Gogebic County to help alleviate the financial burden.
The board also approved the use of the city hall auditorium for the annual Bessemer Chamber of Commerce Easter egg hunt.