Council discusses purchases of new equipment

CASSOPOLIS — The Cassopolis village council discussed purchasing several pieces of equipment for the village at its regular workshop meeting Monday night.

The council heard proposals for purchasing a new leaf vacuum for the Department of Public Works, as well as a pair of radar speed signs for the Cassopolis Police Department.

Village Manager Emilie Sarratore told the council that she and Police Chief Brian LaValle discussed that, with all the things going on with the streetscape and the addition of a beach, the signs would be valuable in helping the department slow down vehicles even when police were not present in the area.

“One of the things Chief LaValle and I talked about was adding a couple of speed radar signs to bring additional awareness to the community,” she said. “We actually looked to see if we could borrow some from the [Michigan] State Police, but they did not have any available. We think it would be a really good purchase, especially with everything moving forward and the new beach down there, just to kind of slow people down a little bit more.”

Cassopolis is looking to purchase signals that can be moved around the village and are solar-powered. Sarratore said the cost is a bit more for those, but it would make things easier for the village to move them around and not have to make sure power was available everywhere they wanted to place the radar signs.

Another point that both Sarratore and LaValle made was that the village usually only has one officer on duty at a time and that they cannot be everywhere in the village. The radar signs would help be a deterrent in the other areas.

The signs cost roughly $7,000 each.

Sarratore said that the money would come out of the police budget, which has additional funds built into it for such purchases.

The council also learned that it would need to purchase a new leaf vacuum. The village’s current vacuum, which they believe to be more than 25-years old, is no longer working and can no longer be repaired.

Sarratore gave the council two options. The first is to have residents put their leaves in bags and take them to the curb where the village’s trash service would pick them up as part of its contract with the community.

The other was a purchase a new machine for approximately $50,000.

“We have always provided leaf pickup service for our residents,” Sarratore said. “We could just move to only what the garbage pickup contract will do. However, I think we all know that not everyone is going to do that.”

Sarratore was concerned some would push the leaves to the road, and with no machine to pick them up, they would get into the storm drains, which would “create a mess.”

Sarratore also said that she has had some discussion with Dowagiac, which is looking into purchasing an additional one. Although no formal talks have been hosted, she is looking at perhaps sharing a vacuum between the two communities.

“We budgeted about $30,000, but realistically, the piece of equipment we need comes in just shy of $50,000,” she said. “This is one we would need to move on pretty quickly because there is a delay to get here in order to have it here for this fall.”

Also Monday, he council was aware that it would need to vote on PA 152, which allows the village to provide its own medical benefits. In 2011, the state established standards for health benefits. Cassopolis’ benefits exceed the state standards, so the village must vote to decline PA 152.

Sarratore also informed the council that while she and Village President David Johnson were looking through the village’s general laws, it was discovered that the village manager should be under contract, which she has not been.

Since her annual review is due in September, she and Johnson will bring her into compliance with the general law with a contract.

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