Millage for street improvements and upgrades at Spies Public Library were on the table for discussion at a recent meeting of the Menominee City Council’s Finance Committee. Both are legitimate topics.

The city has had a one mill tax levy for street work on the books since the 1970s. The tax was approved by voters, usually for a five-year or longer run. When the tax levy expired, the city council authorized a renewal proposal be placed on the ballot for voters to decide. The proposal never lost.

For some strange reason, the millage was left to expire without a renewal vote. Perhaps someone at city hall wasn’t paying attention to the expiration date and the failure has cost the city in valuable funding for street work. The city doesn’t need a rocket scientist to issue a warning that many of the streets are in poor condition and road maintenance should be an annual budget item.

Alderman Bill Plemel, the dean of council, reminded finance committee colleagues that the city has two elections coming up within the next year — one this fall and another next spring — and he thinks the city should be talking about putting the street millage question back on the ballot. Kudos to the alderman for his straight talk.

The committee also mentioned going after grant money to help its cause. The pursuit of grant money for any municipal project should always be on the minds of our city leaders. It is surprising how much grant money is available for public works projects. All it takes is a responsible watchdog to keep track of potential funding and someone on staff to be astute on how to pursue it.

The city is overburdened with places to invest in the budget and it doesn’t have the necessary funds to keep up with the ongoing problem of street repairs. The city needs a special millage to help its cause. Voters have responded favorably in the past and we’re confident they’ll do it again if a solid plan is put before them.

The lapse in judgement for allowing the special street improvement millage to fall through the cracks is another reason why we think the city needs a full-time engineer in house to keep track of things.

August Spies handed over a public library to the citizens of Menominee in 1904. The library has undergone expansion and renovations over time during its 115-year history. It is one of the finest assets in the city’s brochure. It serves men, women and children in many different ways.

We’re pleased that the city manager and the finance committee are continuing to review the improvement plan at the library.