Dozens of proposals were presented to the Superior City Council weeks ago, and Tuesday, June 22, councilors spent more than two hours learning more about them before they set their priorities for the 2022 budgets and beyond.
Proposals include everything from additional staff and infrastructure proposals to finding new ways to deliver city services and providing improved amenities to residents.
“We can’t fund everything,” Mayor Jim Paine said. “This is not an exercise that will result in all of these proposals getting funded, obviously.”
Paine said his goal, as in previous years of his administration, is to get a sense of councilors' priorities as officials begin to develop the city’s general fund and capital improvement program budgets for 2022.
“The city’s doing very well financially, and we do have new and extra sources of cash so there is an opportunity to fund more than we otherwise would, especially when it comes to the CIP,” Paine said.
Personnel proposals include hiring one additional staff member in the City Clerk’s Office, reestablishing an administrative position in the fire department, hiring a library manager for outreach and community engagement, and hiring a communications coordinator to manage the city’s online presence and strengthen communications between the city and residents.
Councilor Jenny Van Sickle recalled the council creating a similar position to the communications coordinator, which was never funded, and asked the mayor if it would be similar to that marketing position.
Paine said the marketing position was created with the goal of attracting people to Superior.
“This would focus more on how we communicate with the citizens of Superior,” Paine said.
He said the city has numerous social media accounts that are inconsistently managed, and every department bears responsibility for managing the city’s website.
Councilor Craig Sutherland questioned the need for additional staff in the City Clerk’s Office to manage the election workload.
City Clerk Terri Kalan said currently, her staff is still working on elections, processing postcards from voters who haven’t voted in four years who want to remain on the voter registry. With the sharp increase in interest in absentee voting, and a process for absentee ballots that has gotten more complicated in the last four years, she sees one full-time, year-round position being necessary to handle the workload.
“I don’t have a stake in this decision anymore,” said Kalan, who is planning to retire. However, she said she just doesn’t see how only three people can do the job going forward.
Other proposals include improvements to city parks and recreational facilities such as creating an in-hill slide and combination splash pad and skating rink at Wade Bowl; creating skating trails; and developing a kayak rental program. Barker’s Island and the Superior Municipal Forest could also see improvements.
“Your concept of the ski lodge most captured the whimsy of the forest in a way that I never envisioned before,” Van Sickle said to Linda Cadotte, parks, recreation and forestry director.
Cadotte said the idea was included in one of the old master plans for the forest and would provide a space where skiers and others could gather.
“I like the idea of kayaks,” Councilor Warren Bender said.
Paine said he recommends ranking funding for park improvements high because individual proposals may not be funded and more money for improvements could give the council another chance to fund them.
For more than two hours councilors questioned department managers, the mayor and even one another when it came to discussion of funding Connect Superior, a municipal broadband initiative. Councilors were encouraged to take the weekend to think about the proposals before sharing their priorities with the Mayor’s Office.
Paine said he anticipates presenting the council with four budgets in September. In addition to the general fund and capital improvement budgets, he said he expects to include a budget for the $17 million the city received through the American Rescue Plan Act, as well as surplus revenue from the 2020 budget. While the figure on that isn’t final, he anticipates that to be an additional $1 million, he said.