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Kalamazoo Says Trump's Budget Would Put a Hole in Its Own

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Sehvilla Mann
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WMUK

Commissioners also heard about plans for a roundabout at Gull Road and Harrison and Ransom Streets, and approved plans for lead service line removal in Kalamazoo Township.

Kalamazoo city leaders say President Trump’s proposed federal budget would force the city to cut or put an end to a number of programs. Congress has shelved the president’s plan for now, but it could come back next year.

On Monday, department leaders told the commission that the president’s budget would remove about $7 million in funding from Kalamazoo. The police department would lose officers and Kalamazoo’s affordable housing programs would no longer have funding. Community Planning and Development Director Rebekah Kik told commissioners about some of the staff her office would have to let go if Trump’s budget became law.

“Two code enforcement anti-blight staff, two community policing officers which we support, our historic preservation coordinator,” among others, she said.

And Kalamazoo Chief Financial Officer Tom Skrobola says about four million road work dollars would go away. Skrobola says that’s around half of what the city spends in a year to improve and fix its roads.

“So the impact would be rather severe to our street systems as well,” he said.

Kalamazoo Vice Mayor Don Cooney says the city should tell local Congressional representatives to oppose Trump’s budget should it come before them.

Roundabout

A new roundabout might be in the works for downtown Kalamazoo. The roundabout would connect Harrison and Ransom Streets to Gull Road. City planners say that increased traffic has led to crashes at the intersection, which has no signal. They say a stoplight is one possibility, but a roundabout would minimize the risk of accidents even more. The plan includes a bypass for cyclists, and it cuts down the number of lanes pedestrians have to cross at one time. The planners say they worked with the community to design the roundabout, after an earlier design met with criticism. Commissioners are expected to vote on the plan May 15.

Drinking water pipes

Lead water pipes are set to come out at some homes in Kalamazoo Township. The Kalamazoo City Commission approved a plan on Monday to replace lead service lines for at least 203 houses in K Township. The work will cost about $850,000. It’ll be carried out by a company that’s also doing road work. The Department of Environmental Quality has urged the replacement of all lead water pipes in the state, following the Flint water crisis. Kalamazoo says it also plans to replace 257 lead water pipes within the city this year.

Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in January 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. Before that she covered a variety of topics, including environmental issues, for Bloomington, Indiana NPR and PBS affiliates WFIU and WTIU. She’s also written and produced stories for the Pacifica Network and WYSO Public Radio in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Sehvilla holds a B.A. in French from Earlham College and an M.A. in journalism from Indiana University.
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