June 30, 2016

Partly sunny

Medina council selects five capital projects in budget meeting

MEDINA — City Council members have outlined their spending priorities for next year, and projects include a new parking facility and working with the Friends of Spring Grove Cemetery to build a new business office and garage at the cemetery.

Dennis Hanwell

At a special budget meeting Wednesday, Council members whittled 22 proposed capital items to five.

In addition to the parking facility and cemetery improvements, the other three projects are renovations at the Medina Municipal Court and the city’s outdoor pool on East Homestead Street and financial support for Medina Community Improvement Corporation initiatives.

Councilman Dennie Simpson, 2nd Ward, said the additions to Spring Grove Cemetery should be a priority because the city wouldn’t have to pay the full cost of the project. The Friends of Spring Grove Cemetery have about $350,000 in an endowment to construct a new business office.

“It’s like getting a grant,” he said.

Simpson said the city would be responsible for constructing a maintenance garage that could cost at least $225,000.

The city would own both of the buildings at the cemetery on the city’s east side between Weymouth Road and East Washington Street.

Not everyone agreed the city should back the cemetery project.

Council President John Coyne speculated the city might be able to construct a less-expensive maintenance garage.

“I’m just wondering if we might be able to meet with (the Friends of Spring Grove Cemetery) and maybe contribute a lower amount,” Coyne said.

The city also will meet with the Community Improvement Corporation about their projects and Municipal Judge Dale Chase about an expansion of municipal court.

At the meeting, Council also discussed the 2013 budget, which includes figures for the next five years based at current spending levels.

The $48.8 million budget for next year is $1.7 million higher than in 2012. But Finance Director Keith Dirham said the increase would be only $1.1 million because $600,000 of the additional money is refinancing bonds and not new spending.

Dirham said spending is up mostly due to sanitation and health care expenses.

Sanitation expenses are up by about $400,000. The cost includes the purchase of a new vehicle but also represents an increase in expenses paid to the central trash processing facility in Seville.

Dirham said that, looking ahead at the next five years, it’s possible the city may have to consider an increase in sewer collection fees.

“Unless we have an increase in revenue, that’s probably something you’ll have to consider,” he said.

Costs are also up for health care, for a total budget impact of $500,000.

Mayor Dennis Hanwell said the increase could have been worse.

During a finance committee meeting prior to the budget meeting, Hanwell explained city benefit options to the committee members.

The city’s health care provider — Summa Health Care — would have increased costs by 21.8 percent in 2013, Hanwell said the city went out to the open market and found United Healthcare could provide them with health care at an increase of 12.5 percent.

“United Healthcare is one of the largest and is pushing to be the largest health care agency,” said Hanwell. “That’s why you’re seeing them push with a competitive bid.”

The committee agreed to go with United Healthcare, for an overall savings of $172,000.
The health care change and the 2013-17 budget will be voted on at Council’s regular session Dec. 10.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.