City Commission Worksession Minutes 04-11-2022

View the PDF version Google Docs PDF Viewer View the Video

                                CITY OF MUSKEGON
                          CITY COMMISSION WORKSESSION

                                 Monday, April 11, 2022
                                       5:30 p.m.
                              City Commission Chambers
                        933 Terrace Street, Muskegon, MI 49440



Present: Mayor Johnson, Vice Mayor German (arrived at 5:35 p.m.), Commissioners
Gorman, Emory, St.Clair, Hood, and Ramsey (left at 6:40 p.m.) Software Subscription Renewal
The Economic Development Department has been utilizing the platform for
one year, and is requesting that the City Commission authorize the automatic renewal
of the platform as requested when initially passing the item in 2021.

The Development Services Division has benefited greatly from this data tool, and
strongly recommends its renewal. Not only have we utilized this software internally for
our own tourism tracking, industrial park analysis, event attendance, and other
functions, but we have been able to assist many other community stakeholders with
reports such as Community enCompass, Muskegon County Visitors Bureau, Rebel
Road, West Michigan Art Festival, Muskegon Area Chamber, and others. It has proven
valuable, and still has other applications we are learning that will serve the city and its
redevelopment well into the future.

Economic Development Director, Jake Eckholm, reported to the City Commission on
the value of this platform and this item will appear on the Regular Meeting Agenda on
April 12, 2022 for consideration.

Poverty Exemption Policy Update
The State has updated its requirements regarding poverty exemptions, and we need to
update our policy in order to comply. We are required to have a commission-approved
“Poverty Exemption Policy” for the Board of Review to follow when approving or denying
poverty exemption applications. The last update to the policy was in 2019. The current
policy with the suggested changes is attached, and is a part of our larger Financial
Policies document.

The State of Michigan has determined that allowing Boards of Review to deviate
from poverty exemption policies for “substantial and compelling reasons” is no
longer permissible under MCL 211.7u. That statement in the policy must be
Additionally, it is suggested by staff that the Commission consider adding the
highlighted language to the policy, which would limit the poverty exemption in certain
instances. This change would still allow those on a fixed income over the age of 65
or who are disabled to receive 100% of the benefit exemption. This particular
change is not required by the State, but it is an option that is available to ensure the
exemption benefits are awarded to those that are most in need.
SWOC Analysis
In preparation for the goal setting meeting later this week, our facilitator has asked that
the commissioners complete a short SWOC analysis.

In thinking about our community, please provide your thoughts on the following:

Strengths: What do you see as the strengths of our city organization? What do we do
better than other cities? What advantages do we have? What do others see as our

Weaknesses:       What do you consider to be weaknesses within our organization?
What can we improve? What do others see as our weaknesses?

Opportunities:       Where do you see opportunities in the community? What changes
would be helpful to us?

Challenges: What are the challenges facing our community? What obstacles are we
facing? What within our external environment is changing? What could hinder our

City Commissioners discussed each area and discussion included the following:

Strengths:     1. City staff is in alignment, we are on the same path. 2. We come to the
table with many ideas. 3. Sustain and maintain a budget 4. Creativity 5. Staff is always
willing to stand up, listen, provide education. 6. Work well together 7. City staff is very
diverse 8. Strive to get our meetings out to the public.

Weaknesses: 1. Departments are not diverse 2. Relationship building internally 3. PR
Problem, lack of trust, perception that commission not operating on good intent. 4.
Police Department 5. Honesty

Opportunities: 1. Engage 2. ARPA funding 3. Rules of Engagement 4. Growing Parks
Department (Commission) 5. Middle School

Challenges: 1. Education 2. Housing 3. Develop away the Lakeshore 4. People
outside the community trying to direct commissioners 5. Minority business owners
The discussion that started about the Cities Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and
Challenges will continue with the oversight of a facilitator at the City Goal Setting

ARPA Standard Allowance
The final rule from the US Treasury allows agencies to select the standard allowance for
revenue loss which is $10,000,000 for governmental services with streamlined reporting
requirements. The Finance Director is recommending that we use the full amount for
police and fire salaries along with other governmental services starting from January

Arena Event Support
City Staff is requesting to formalize arena event financial support related to indoor arena

The West Michigan Ironmen have hosted arena football games at Mercy Health
Arena for six seasons. During that time, the events have brought in a diverse crowd
that is more-representative of the City of Muskegon. In the past, City
Commissioners and arena leadership have expressed significant support in hosting
these events because doing so opens the arena to more city residents.

The arena has historically charged the team $1,000 to rent the facility, including set
up costs, security, ushers, box office, and misc. staff. The cost for the arena to
provide these services is around $9,000. The city then uses ticket surcharges,
concessions, parking, and other revenue areas to try and raise the remaining
$8,000. On average, we have raised $3,000-$4,000. All sides see the value in
continuing the events, but we would like to formalize the way the event is expensed.
This will avoid making arena lease decisions in the future that are purely financially
motivated – for example, charging more rent, finding a different renter, or cancelling
the events.
The proposal would keep the football team paying a $1,000 rental fee as well as a $3
ticket surcharge, with a minimum of 1,000 tickets sold. This would generate $4,000+ for
each event. We are asking the city to create a formal subsidy of $5,000 to support the
event. Typically, the city provides funding to the arena via an annual allocation to cover
any losses in a lump sum. We have asked the arena’s new management to move the
arena into a more profitable position to reduce the subsidy. To properly do this, it is
likely the first events to be eliminated would be the events like this because of the
financial burden. Using this model, the football events would no longer be a negative on
the arena balance sheet. There should be no additional costs, as we would simply track
this portion separately from the current transfer to the arena from the General Fund.

Discussion took place and this item will appear on the agenda on April 12, 2022 for
Public Comment:   Public comment was received.

Adjournment:      The Worksession meeting adjourned at 7:17 p.m.

                                           Respectfully Submitted,

                                           Ann Marie Meisch, MMC – City Clerk

Top of Page

Sign up for City of Muskegon Emails