Big Rapids City Commission discusses deer feeding ordinance

DEER ORDINANCE: Mayor Mark Warba and city commissioner Lorraine James discuss a possible ordinance banning intentional deer feeding within city limits. (Pioneer photo / Dan Meloy)

DEER ORDINANCE: Mayor Mark Warba and city commissioner Lorraine James discuss a possible ordinance banning intentional deer feeding within city limits. (Pioneer photo / Dan Meloy)

BIG RAPIDS — City officials are debating the merit of an ordinance that would forbid residents from intentionally feeding deer within city limits.

City Commissioners discussed the potential policy during their meeting on Monday.

With a deer cull planned for later this month, city attorney Eric Williams presented the commissioners with an ordinance that would make intentionally feeding a deer a municipal infraction, subject to a fine.

Commissioners discussed problems deer pose to city residents, with Commissioner Dan Rothstein pointing out that deer are responsible for damage to residents’ shrubbery and plants, and that shooting deer within city limits is illegal, giving residents few options with dealing with the problem.

Mayor Mark Warba asked Williams to study the problem further, citing that the state does allow recreational feeding of deer. He would like to avoid any conflict between state and local authority on the policy of intentionally feeding deer.

Warba also wants to avoid creating an ordinance that might be later be deemed unnecessary.

“Enacting an ordinance for the sake of enacting an ordinance is not good for productivity,” Warba said. “However, if we find out it’s something necessary for us to act upon. We definitely have to keep on it.”

Williams is expected to return to the commissioners with more information regarding the potential ordinance on Jan. 20.

In other action, the commissioners unanimously amended water and sewer rates, effective Feb. 1.

Rates vary to the meter size of residents and businesses. Those with a 5/8-inch meter size will see little to no change in their water and sewer rates, while those with a 2-inch meter size will see a 5.93 percent increase in sewer and water rates. Across all sizes, the average increase is just above four percent.

“We have picked an REU equivalent, a Residential Equivalency Unity, and that is a prescribed number for every 1,000 gallons used,” City Manager Steve Sobers said. “We look at all the size of the meters and its REU equivalent, and that number is the underpinning of what our rates are.

“For the next three years, some rates are going to go up and some go down. You will see that continue as we adjust rates to collect the dollars we need to operate the system. We know we need $2 million to operate the fund. So we back into that number with the philosophical underpinning of the rates.”

In other action:

•     The city’s auditor gave a report to commissioners, giving the city an “unmodified opinion”, the highest assessment an auditor can give. The report concluded the city’s surplus is growing and the commission is doing an “adequate job” managing the city’s finances.

•     The commission finalized its meeting schedule and rules of procedures for 2015.

•     The commission approved Warba’s appointments of Dr. Ralph Crew and Richard Hults to the Big Rapids Brownfield Development Authority.

 

 

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