Dear Village Resident,

            I’m honored, once again, to be contacting you on behalf of the Council of the Village of South Range.  In the spirit of transparency and community involvement, we wanted to reach out to everyone to keep you informed on what we have been working on over the past year, and what we plan to focus on in the future.

            It has been a busy year for our small town.  The Father’s Day Flood has certainly made things difficult while trying to take on some of our goals for this year, but regardless, I’m very proud of the progress that we have made.

-          When I reached out to you last year, we were in the process of fixing the Village’s budget.  Prior to this past year, the Village has had a budget in the red (spent more than we took in) for many years.  I’m proud to say that through policy changes, sale of surplus equipment, and by tightening our belts, we were able to have a budget surplus of $160,000, which far exceeded our expectations.  We are cautiously optimistic that we are on the right track this year, but we incurred additional costs of $75,000 to replace our aging grader (our primary piece of equipment for snow removal), and another $100,000 in Flood repairs.  We are confident that we should be able to recover most of the cost of the flood repairs and have begun permanent repairs of the damage.

-          We finalized our Civil Infraction Ordinance and adopted a policy for enforcing it.  I’ll be the first to admit that we weren’t as aggressive as we had hoped this year, but we wanted to make sure that we did it right with a process that is consistent and fair.  I believe that we are on the right track.  Hopefully you’ve noticed some more effort by our residents to comply with our ordinances.  In the coming year, we intend on taking a more aggressive approach now that we have a process in place that seems to be working for us. We know that we have a long way to go, but our intent is to keep moving forward one step at a time. 

-          Our refurbished playground on Seventh Street is nearly completed.  Thanks to the Michigan DNR Recreation Grant, only 25% of the cost actually falls on to the Village and we were able to recover a lot of that through in-kind work (volunteers).  I want to say a special thank you to everyone that took time to help us out. 

-          We continue to see our Village grow.  If you take a walk around town, you’ll notice a lot of house refurbishments/additions, new business, and new houses being built.  Furthermore, once houses go up for sale within the Village, they are being sold quickly.  This is a sign of progress for us and I encourage everyone to please support our local business and welcome our new neighbors.    We are a tight-knit, safe community, and we want to make sure that we continue to have pride in our small town.

  As promised, we sent out a survey to our community members this summer.  I want to thank everyone that took the time to fill it out.  We heard plenty of positive comments, as well as comments to help steer us in the direction that our town wants us to go.  Those suggestions helped to reinforce the direction we plan to go in.  Some of the areas that we plan to work on include;

-          Continue to work on blight cleanup, dangerous building cleanup, ordinance enforcement, and updating ordinances.  With Michigan Tech growing and more properties being used as rentals in town, we have already begun the process of establishing a Rental Zoning Ordinance.  We are only in the initial stages of this and we look forward to working with landlords and tenants within the Village to make sure we have an ordinance that works for everyone.

-          We’ve recognized for some time that our streets are in need of attention.  Because our budget was in such disarray, we needed to get that under control first.  Now that we have a sustainable budget with some fund equity, we now hope to invest that equity into resurfacing our streets with a maintenance program beginning in 2019.  Initial talks by the Council indicate that in early Spring we will document and prioritize sections of streets that need resurfacing (long term solution instead of short term patching).  Each year, we will budget X dollars (to be determined at the beginning of each year) for blacktop replacement.  We will work on the prioritized list until that budgeted amount is used up for the year.  We will continue to do this as long as there are sections of street that need to be replaced, but please keep in mind that it is very costly to resurface streets and it will take a number of years to achieve our goal.

As I close out this letter, I just wanted to let you know about a few reminders and announcements;

-          The winter parking ban went in to effect on November 1st.  Please follow it accordingly. 

-          Pushing or blowing snow onto Village streets is not allowed per our ordinances.

-          Hydrants need to be kept clear.  Please do not push snow in front of them.

-          The Fire Department’s annual Kids Christmas Party will be held on December 15th from 3-5 pm.

-          The South Range Business Association’s 4th of July Committee is in desperate need of volunteers.  If you are interested in helping out in any way, please reach out to one of our trustee’s or call the Village office for more information. 

Please give a warm welcome to our newest Trustee, Josh Saaranen, who was recently elected to Dr. Sarah Derenzo’s vacated seat.  Dr. Derenzo was an instrumental part of the progress that the Village as seen over the past few years so if you see her around town or at her business, Vitality Chiropractic, please be sure to tell her thank you.  She will be missed on the council, but we are confident that Josh will fit right in. 

If you have any questions, concerns, recommendations, want to get involved in any way, or just want to say “Hi”, please don’t hesitate to contact our offices or reach out to any of your elected officials.  Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

Sincerely,

 Justin Marier

President

Village of South Range