PORTAGE | On a 5-2 vote, the Portage City Council approved a $3.5 million park department bond issue.
The council defeated a similar proposal in November on a 4-3 vote.
This time, however, Democrat council members Liz Modesto and Sue Lynch changed their minds and voted in favor of the bond issue.
The bond was approved with a condition. Modesto said she believes there are some non-essential items listed in the bond proposal suggested an amendment to require the budget committee have final approval on spending and projects.
City Attorney Gregg Sobkowski said what projects can and cannot be done are outlined in the bonding ordinance. While projects cannot be added to the list after its approval, items can be deleted.
Councilman Mark Oprisko said he didn't want the budget committee to micromanage the spending of the bond proceeds.
Council members said the intent of the amendment is not to take control away from the Park Board.
Democratic council members Modesto, Lynch and Oprisko and Republicans Ted Uzelac and John Cannon voted in favor of the issue. Democrats Matt Scheuer and Pat Clem voted against the issue.
Lynch called for a reduction of the issue to $1.5 million. She reluctantly voted in favor of the issue, saying repairs are needed at the Park Department, but deemed skate and dog park signs along with grass seed inappropriate for the bond issue.
Clem and Scheuer said they opposed the bond issue because they believe the city has greater needs.
"No one wants to say no, but it comes to priorities," said Scheuer, calling some of the items luxuries the city cannot afford.
Those who favored the issue said repairs are needed, not only to improve the quality of life for residents, but also from a business perspective.
"From a business point of view, you have to put back into the business to make money," Oprisko said.