By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – Approaching the home stretch of the city’s time under state authority, Emergency Manager Brad Coulter said his remaining months will focus on remaining checklist items and fine-tuning the city budget.
Savings have been implemented in increments large and small, he said, including the recently-started street light replacement along Fort and Dix.
“There’s substantial savings on electricity,” Coulter said of the DTE-contracted replacement of more than 200 street lights with energy-efficient LED bulbs. “We’re slowly working through the city.”
Coulter said savings on the $50,000 investment would be realized within 18 months just on electricity, and continued use will save further on maintenance.
The project is expected to take about 30 days, and signs will be posted advising motorists of any pending outages. About 60 lights will be replaced on Fort Street between Champaign and Emmons, and about 150 along various stretches of Dix.
Coulter said he remains on schedule to conclude his term as the city’s emergency manager at the end of the year. He anticipates the appointment of a city manager by September, and the transition period will include the negotiation of final labor contracts.
Earlier this year, Coulter reported a projected budget for fiscal year 2015-16 that ends with about $500,000 in the general fund, the first positive budget the city had recorded in several years.
The city had approached a $5 million deficit after declining property values had been unable to keep pace with basic costs for public safety and employee salaries, benefits and pensions. A series of orders through the year confirmed a restructured budget including a partially-subsidized health care plan for retirees.
“There are still some things to finish up,” Coulter said. “But the city should be able to manage what they have.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at email@example.com.)