BENTON HARBOR — Benton Harbor residents should soon notice fewer potholes as they drive on city streets.

City commissioners on Monday unanimously approved almost $1 million in street improvements to be paid for using revenue from the first year the city income tax was collected. 

“This is a big win for the city,” Mayor Marcus Muhammad said as commissioners discussed the project. “And it’s a collective group that did it. ... I came to celebrate tonight.”

The improvements include street resurfacing and pothole repair in various places all over the city, with 80 percent of the money spent on local streets and the rest on major ones. Kalin Construction of Sodus was the low bidder, at $990,698. 

“Promises made, promises kept. Let’s get the work done,” Muhammad said.

Commissioner Ron Singleton said residents are tired of the potholes damaging their cars.

“The residents want to see something right now,” he said.

Discussion centered around whether Kalin Construction was going to hire local people to do the work.

“When we spend money, we need to take care of our people,” Commissioner Juanita Henry said.

Commissioner MaryAlice Adams agreed.

“I would like to see in the near future, like tomorrow, start working on a way to bring this in-house so that we can control it,” she said.

Singleton said bringing the job in-house is a good idea, but will have to be for future projects.

“Right now, I think this is the most effective way to do it,” he said.

City Manager Ellis Mitchell said his management team will meet with the city’s engineers to make sure Kalin Construction is doing the work correctly.

Work is expected to start this week, possibly tomorrow, and to be done by the end of the year.

Also on Monday, Mitchell said he is working with Director Tracy-Ann Jennings of the Community and Economic Development Department to see if there are any state or federal programs out there to help the city leverage its dollars.

Paw Paw Avenue

Commissioners also approved spending $247,636 for the Paw Paw Avenue Drainage Improvement Project. The low bidder was B&Z Company in Benton Harbor. The work includes erosion control, and some sewer work to replace a section of road that has been damaged by flooding. The project will be paid for out of the city’s Major Streets fund.

Paw Paw Avenue has been closed since mid-March from north of Waukonda Avenue to the Benton Harbor Public Works Department at 768 Paw Paw Ave.

Mitchell said work is expected to start Sept. 1 and to be done by the end of September.

In addition, commissioners passed a resolution amending the city commission’s rules so:

• The chairman and co-chairman of committees are jointly in charge,

• Agenda items can be added to the agenda if approved by the majority of commissioners when they are approving the consent agenda, and

• Policies and procedures can be suspended if approved by the majority of commissioners. 

Contact: lwrege@TheHP.com, 932-0361, Twitter: @HPWrege