City Commissioners Approve Budget, Munson Avenue Rezoning, Pride Resolution
By Beth Milligan | June 6, 2023
Traverse City commissioners voted Monday to approve the city’s 2023-24 budget, including the Traverse City Light & Power and TC Downtown Development Authority budgets. Staff flagged a crucial data error that had significantly inflated the cost and number of projects on deck in the city over the next six years, with the actual figures being much “more achievable,” according to Interim City Manager Nate Geinzer. Commissioners Monday also approved a rezoning request for commercial property on Munson Avenue, a liquor license for a new tasting room on West Front Street, and a resolution declaring June 2023 as LGBTQ+ and Pride Month.
City commissioners approved the city’s 2023-24 annual general fund budget Monday, totaling approximately $24 million. Commissioners also approved the budgets for Traverse City Light & Power and the TC Downtown Development Authority, with City Commissioner Tim Werner voting ‘no’ on approving the DDA budget and the city’s capital improvement plan (CIP).
Staff flagged an important error that was caught following recent discussions about the city’s CIP, a document that outlines city projects planned for the next six years. The CIP helps guide the development of the annual budget. During May budget discussions, staff said the city had 271 projects on deck totaling over $490 million in the CIP. But last week, staff discovered those figures were impacted by a data transfer glitch. There are actually only 137 projects in the CIP for the next six years at a total estimated cost of $238 million. Of that total, the city’s portion is approximately $133 million, with the remaining costs associated with TCLP and DDA projects.
“We are grateful to have caught this error and that the city’s proposed investments are now more achievable,” said Interim City Manager Nate Geinzer. “Many thanks to the city staff who quickly diagnosed the issue within the software to find a solution once it was brought to our attention.”
The city launched an interactive CIP map this year with a visual, color-coded display of all upcoming projects. Residents can click on projects by neighborhood, year, or department (such as parks and recreation or Traverse City Light & Power or parking services). Residents can also search for projects by name. Clicking on a project will bring up a pop-up screen that shows a description of the planned work, its timeline, and budget.
Geinzer told commissioners the city was recently approved for a $1.6 million grant for a demonstration project to install solar panels and battery storage at the city’s wastewater treatment plant. Geinzer said the project will include installing a 434-kilowatt array with a 1.75-megawatt four-hour battery backup. The total project cost is nearly $1.9 million, leaving a funding gap of approximately $250,000-$300,000. Geinzer said there are several options the city can pursue to close the gap, from using unallocated American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to pursuing Inflation Reduction Act grants. Staff will return in the future with recommendations to present to commissioners to finalize funding for the project, Geinzer said.
Geinzer said more aspects of this year’s budget are likely to return for additional future discussion, from succession planning for replacing retiring city staff to reviewing job descriptions and authorizing hiring for several newly approved positions.
Also at Monday’s meeting...
> Commissioners approved a request from John Collins of Empire Sunset Investments LLC to rezone 523, 525, and 551 Munson Avenue to C-2 (neighborhood center district). The first two parcels are currently zoned C-1 (office service district), while the third parcel is zoned R-1b (single-family dwelling district). Collins noted that current zoning on the site – which houses Third Coast Bakery (pictured) – “has a limited list of allowed uses and restricts even a modest improvement to the existing Third Coast Bakery building.” Collins said the rezoning will allow Third Coast Bakery to make upgrades and will allow “other complementary health-based service and food-related businesses” to move in, creating a destination for “those desiring a range of health-focused retail products and services.”
> Commissioners approved a request from Kayak, Bike & Brew (KBB) for a new small distillers on-premises tasting room liquor license at 436 West Front Street. According to the application, KBB will produce and serve all its own spirits in pre-batched, on-draft cocktails. The tasting room will provide a “fun and safe space for guests and tour attendees to relax” after KBB tours. “Located on the edge of downtown, this tasting room provides a unique industrial experience,” the application states. “Tucked away with an upbeat and friendly atmosphere and knowledgeable bar staff, this experience will provide patrons fun memories.” Occupancy for the combined indoor and outdoor space is a maximum 34 patrons. Allowed tasting room hours are 11am to 9pm, up to seven days a week.
> Commissioners approved an annual resolution – one that has been passed during previous years – declaring June 2023 as LGBTQ+ and Pride Month. The resolution states that the City of Traverse City “cherishes the value and dignity of each person” and “appreciates the cultural, civic, and economic contributions of the LGBTQ+ community.” The resolution notes that all are welcome in Traverse City “to live, work, visit, and play; and every family – in any shape – deserves a place to call home where they are safe, happy, and supported by friends and neighbors.” Resolution language also states that it’s “imperative that young people in our community – regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression – feel valued, safe, empowered, and supported by their peers and community leaders” and calls on residents to “recognize the contributions made by members of the LGBTQ+ community, and to actively promote the principles of equality, liberty, and justice.”Comment