Port Huron City Council discusses priorities for 2015

City Manager James Freed discusses what he wants to focus on for the 2015-16 fiscal year for the city of Port Huron. The city council held a special meeting Tuesday night to go over Port Huron’s top priorities and goals for the upcoming year. (Tony Wittkowski | Times Herald)

City Manager James Freed discusses what he wants to focus on for the 2015-16 fiscal year for the city of Port Huron. The city council held a special meeting Tuesday night to go over Port Huron’s top priorities and goals for the upcoming year. (Tony Wittkowski | Times Herald)

By Tony Wittkowski | City Reporter | The Times Herald

Members from different branches of the city of Port Huron government met Tuesday night with a long list of priorities.

Port Huron City Council produced a list of 35 priorities and goals they wanted to focus on for 2015.

Two hours into the meeting council members talked about what would benefit the city in an effort to narrow them down to five priorities.

Among the most discussed priorities included providing pay increases for city employees at all levels.

“If we are not competitive with our wages it will be hard retaining people, especially police officers,” said City Manager James Freed. “We don’t want to be a revolving door. I don’t want to have to train more people.”

Mayor Pauline Repp said it will be important to keep wages up to compete with other municipalities.

“We need to stay competitive for wages,” she said. “A lot of businesses have been scaling back on pensions and insurance. We don’t want to do that.”

Mayor Pro-Tem Sherry Archibald spoke of identifying ways to make Port Huron the place to live.

“I think we are not a boater destination. We are just a path,” Archibald said. “I would like to see us become a boater destination, to get them here and to have a great time.”

Council members Alan Lewandowski and Ken Harris addressed a priority to have better communication between council and city hall. Lewandowski said he did not feel Freed was communicating well with the council..

Freed said he sends out monthly reports to provide council members with the information that is needed.

“The operational aspects fall under my authority, Freed said. “There is not going to be every detail or personnel issue. I try to let you know about everything of significance.

Council members Anita Ashford and Rico Ruiz refuted the statement saying Freed has done well to keep council informed. Repp added that she appreciated Freed’s monthly reports.

Along with the city council, other departments included their list of priorities for the city. Each department presented at least five priorities they wanted to focus on with some overlapping the city’s list.

This included the Department of Public Works, the Finance Department, Human Resources, Parks and Recreation Department and Port Huron fire and police departments.

Freed said the first priority he wants to focus on will be to finish the implementation of the General Fund cost-saving plan adopted by the council in 2014.

Final action for formalizing the list of goals will be taken in the first meeting in March.

Freed said beautifying Edison Parkway and developing a plan to fund the implementation of Lakeside Park redevelopment will likely make the list, based on council support.

“I thought the meeting went well,” Repp said afterward. “A lot of it was a wish list of things we would like to see accomplished. They are encompassed under a broad goal.”

Council member Rachel Cole was not present for the special meeting.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at (810) 989-6270 or twittkowsk@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Feb. 17, 2015)

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