Greenfield Council sets 2014 preliminary budget, levy

After months of budget workshops, the Greenfield City Council approved a preliminary taxy levy and proposed budget for 2014. The city will hold a public hearing in on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m. at 6390 Town Hall Rd. before finalizing the levy.

2014 VERSUS 2013

The preliminary tax levy approved unanimously by the Greenfield City Council at its Sept. 3 meeting is $1,422,990.

The preliminary levy set for 2013, approved in Sept. of 2012, was $1,376,387 and finalized in the following December at $1,376,673.

The 2014 preliminary tax levy represents an increase of 3% over the previous year’s levy, or $46,317.

Also approved unanimously was the proposed 2014 general fund budget of $1,223,791, an increase of $87,969 over the 2013 proposed budget of $1,135,822, or 7.7%. The final budget approved in December of 2012, for 2013, was the same number as proposed.

GREENFIELD CENTRAL PARK

With momentum strong this summer regarding the city’s first park, there was lengthy discussion regarding playground equipment at this meeting.

At a meeting in July, the Greenfield Park Advisory, after getting bids from several vendors, voted to purchase playground components from Little Tykes. Subsequently, a survey conducted by city staff at council direction of a half dozen parks and schools who purchased equipment from Little Tykes (references supplied by Little Tykes) was completed and distributed to council members in their meeting packets. The questions were generic asking LT customers what they liked about the equipment, customer service and if they had complaints. The compilation of answers was favorable.

Earlier in the meeting, during public comment, Park Advisory Member Julie Vergin shared pictures she had taken of Little Tykes equipment in neighboring communities that she felt showed signs of premature wear. Councilor Mark Holton said he had concerns over the new information, pointedly, the photos provided by Vergin. Councilor Tom Cook said that this may be a situation that would warrant the advisory reopening the conversation regarding vendors. Northway, a Greenfield resident and advisory member works for the Plymouth Parks and Recreation Department as Deputy Director, explained some of components that went into consideration when choosing the proposed equipment purchase including height, challenge, play value and others, most of which were met by the Little Tykes equipment. The City of Plymouth, she stated, has 41 playgrounds, and six of them sport Little Tykes equipment.

Equipment, Northway explained, was generally geared to two categories: ages two to five, and ages five to twelve.

Councilor Mike Erickson stated that he felt Northway was qualified to make a recommendation with her experience.

Staff was directed to ask vendors to extend the date of their bids so that more information could be collected — one regarding a legislative change over sales tax that may affect the overall purchase price — and the durability of equipment further considered.

The council also discussed some specific layout issues including the distance of the playground equipment to a shelter and the possible rerouting a trail to allow better access between the two. Further discussion resulted in council asking for a new layout with all proposed amenities for the western portion, which is currently being developed.

Installation of the equipment, which will be done by the city staff, will likely be delayed to 2014. Staff is applying for a grant for playground equipment.

There was also discussion regarding grills and refuse containers, both which will be installed in the park in, and around, the existing shelter.

The next scheduled meeting of the Greenfield City Council is Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m. at 6390 Town Hall Dr.

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