BERRIEN SPRINGS — The Berrien Springs Village Council will once again opt out of the state’s Publicly Funded Health Insurance Contribution Act.
The village has opted out of the act every year since it was passed in 2011. The law allows public bodies to opt out of the law. If entities don’t opt out, they have to agree to either a hard cap on health insurance costs or split health insurance costs with employees.
Village President Milt Richter noted that the village council is continuing its practice of paying all health insurance costs for village employees.
Monday’s meeting also featured action on adopting the village’s capital improvement plan for the next five years, from the current 2019-20 year through the 2024-25 year. Richter said the plan outlines what needs to be done in terms of maintenance, repair and replacement and is required by the state if the village wants to apply for grants.
A number of items on Monday’s agenda were tabled to get further information and will be on the agenda for the council’s next meeting, next Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Agenda items tabled centered around trees and lighting.
With lights, Trustees Jesse Hibler and Kristin von Maur questioned what kind of lights are being used in a proposed contract with American Electric Power to replace streetlights. The village had planned to renew the contract which calls for changing out existing mercury and sodium vapor lights with new LED lights.
Hibler and von Maur don’t have a problem with having LED lights but would like to see warmer rather than cooler lights used. “Warmer lights are much more welcoming and inviting,” von Maur said.
With the proposed work to trim and remove trees, both they and other council members want to make sure new trees are planted after old ones are taken out. “I think we need to have a revised policy to call for tree replacement,” Trustee Barry Gravitt said.
Council members also tabled action on getting a new entrance sign at the wastewater treatment plant off of M-139, just south of the St. Joseph River bridge going into the village. The council had been asked to accept a quote from the Sign Shop of Kalamazoo to replace the sign for $4,975.
“I have no problem with replacing the sign, but I’d hate to see us spend more money on this than on putting in signs at the entrances to the village,” von Maur said.
Trustee Sandy Swartz said she was torn between knowing a new sign is needed and knowing that the money is coming out of “taxpayers’ pockets.” “We did promise Berrien Township that the plant would be aesthetically pleasing as possible,” she said. “Now it seems that we’re not holding up our end.”
Monday’s meeting was held a half hour earlier than usual due to Monday night’s airing of “Our Town Berrien Springs” on WNIT public television. Richter said he hopes the documentary will bring traffic to the village.