Ludington updates spending policy, a result of Rotta lawsuit

February 19, 2013

By Alan Neushwander
Mason Co. Press Correspondent.

LUDINGTON — Ludington City Council agreed to update the city’s spending policy during its meeting Monday night. It’s the first time the policy has been updated since 1998. City Manager John Shay said the council wanted to update the policy to reflect the impact of inflation over the past 15 years and to address how emergency expenditures are handled. The Spending Policy change comes after Ludington lost a lawsuit related to an Open Meetings Act violation stemming from an emergency decision to hire a contractor to repair a sewer main problem without public discussion.

“The city’s force main, which carries all of the city’s sewage to the wastewater treatment plant, broke during this past Thanksgiving Day weekend,” Shay said. “Due to the emergency nature of this problem, the city hired a contractor to repair the force main without formal approval by the city council at a meeting. The now-updated spending policy formalizes the city’s long-standing practice that allows the city manager to exceed his or her spending authority to deal with these types of emergencies.”

The council also held a public hearing Monday regarding a Michigan Department Natural Resources Trust Fund grant to construct a waterfront walkway at the west end of Ludington Avenue. Two people spoke during the public hearing. Tom Coleman spoke in favor of it, while Tom Rotta spoke in opposition to it. The council will hold a second public hearing during its meeting on March 4th. Following the public hearing, the council will consider a resolution to apply for the $300,000 grant, which would be used to construct a walkway to connect the west end of Ludington Avenue with the existing breakwater that leads to the North Pier Lighthouse.

The city also applied for a DNR Trust Fund grant in 2012 to fund the project, but the grant application was denied. According to Shay, “The city is hopeful that we will receive the grant this year, but there are no guarantees.”

In other business, councilors approved the Ludington Yacht Club’s request to use Waterfront Park to host the Queen’s Cup sailboat race from June 28-30, 2013. The Yacht Club expects 170 sailboats to participate in the race, which runs from Milwaukee to Ludington. The race is expected to bring about 8,000 visitors to Ludington.

A proposed ordinance dealing with alcohol sales in city parks was removed from the agenda and has been referred back to the Parks Committee.

Council also approved the Downtown Ludington Board’s request to hold a St. Patrick’s Day event on March 15, 2013 and approved St. John’s Lutheran Church’s request to hold the 12th annual Easter Egg Hunt on March 30, 2013 at the church on North Rowe Street.

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