Alpena City Council will determine which projects will become reality this fiscal year | News, Sports, Jobs

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Alpena Fire Department Lt. Chris Morrison, left, and firefighter Abby Smith practice at the Public Safety Building while on duty Wednesday. The city has new fitness equipment for staff in its capital improvement plan. Alpena City Council will decide whether or not to include the money for equipment when developing the 2022-23 budget.

ALPENA – The municipal government of Alpena has more than $8 million in street, park, water, sewer and emergency services projects listed in its capital improvement plan for the year 2022 -23.

However, not all will become realities.

The city recently updated its six-year plan that prioritizes needed projects and purchases and allows Alpena City Council to fit as many as possible into its annual budget. However, many will be put on the back burner as the board will have to choose which ones it can afford.

The city budget runs from July 1 to June 30.

Many projects depend on the city receiving grants to help cover costs, especially high-priced ones. Some projects are paid for from the general fund and others from other funds, such as the city water and sewer fund and the street fund.

“We’ve got all the proposed projects for 2022-23 on budget and are really starting to scale back to match the funding we have,” said Alpena City Manager Rachel Smolinski. “We still hope to use grants to help pay for projects. This is why it is important to have projects in the CIP and the master plan, because very often we would not be eligible for certain subsidies if we had not included them in our local long-term plans.

As is the norm, many of the proposed projects involve improving infrastructure such as streets and the city’s water and sewer system.

A project proposed for this year would benefit residents who live on or near 4th Avenue between Lewis Street and Bedford Street, where water and sewer improvements are planned, if council approves the projects. The money for these projects would not come from the city’s general fund, but from the water and sewer fund.

Another major street project calls for construction on Ripley Boulevard, from Grant Street to Washington Avenue. The $500,000 for that work would come from the Main Streets Fund this year, and the plan includes a request for the same amount in the 2026-27 budget year.

The plan includes many other proposed projects for local parks. The city could allocate $500,000 over the next two budget years to match a grant it received to build a clubhouse and restrooms near Bayview Park.

Significant investments in the port, marina and parks are spread over the next six years, along with the necessary purchases of police and fire vehicles.

Smolinksi said the capital improvement plan is an important tool that helps the city track spending and future needs. She said it allows the board to plan for major expenses and meet needs that need to be addressed quickly.

The plan is updated annually and projects can be moved from year to year depending on needs and funding. This year, Smolinksi said, the city has listed some projects that are projected beyond six years to monitor longer-term needs and concerns.

These projects include a proposed river center at Duck Park and a mixed-use building at the marina.

Overall, the plan includes approximately $70.3 million in proposed projects through the end of 2028.

Knowing that the likelihood of all projects being completed by then is unlikely, Smolinksi said the city may choose to use the nearly $1 million it received from the American Rescue Plan Act from the federal government, which provided local governments with coronavirus-related stimulus funding to help with some expenses.

Smolinski said department heads had discussed how best to spend the money and she intended to make a recommendation to the board in March or April.

“Yes, these funds could be used for certain projects in the city,” she said.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter

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