The city of DeWitt is starting to become a cultural hub and a go-to destination. A lot of money is being put into the development of their downtown.
Maricela Vargas is a preschool teacher in Lansing who is looking for a job in DeWitt and she is interested in DeWitt because of the small city feel. When Vargas visited DeWitt, she felt the family connection with the residents.
Vargas said: “I was attracted to DeWitt because it’s a cute city and it’s going to be a great place to live. Their downtown is incredible, I have a lot of places to eat and go out. What attracted me to DeWitt is that everyone is friendly and the improvements they’re making to the city.”
The City of DeWitt has a yearly budget that is being put into more than 20 different funds. Previous budget years, city council and administration member share mutual goals of maintaining a minimum 25 percent of a fiscal year’s expenditures in the general fund balance.
The general fund budget for Dewitt is more than $3 million.
City Administrator Dan Coss said that DeWitt’s general fund is the largest fund for the city. Coss said, “The general fund pays for all operations of the City, staff, buildings, grounds maintenance, and parks.”
Along with the general fund, the building and grounds, are a variety of activities that are funded from their budget. Major use for this budget includes recycling contract, street improvements, and streetlights.
Each year over the past decade, the population of DeWitt is constantly growing. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, DeWitt’s population this year is over 4,700, which is the most since 2000. Coss wants the community to keep growing and that’s why he believes that constantly improving DeWitt with the yearly budget will help raise that number.
DeWitt is putting an emphasis on creating downtown DeWitt a place where people want to move to. They are putting more money into funds such as Major Street fund and they signed a three-year contract with Beckett & Raeder for their planning services. Beckett & Raeder is a planning firm that is highly touted for their services. The major street fund increased 2 percent to accommodate current projects happening in downtown DeWitt.
The City and the DDA designate money to be used for Capital Improvements in the downtown each year. In 2018 DeWitt are reconstructing Main Street and adding new street lighting, crosswalks and a new traffic signal.
Coss wants DeWitt to be an attractive place for people to live and they are developing DeWitt every year to be a city that people want to move to.
Coss said: “Creating a vibrant downtown where people want to gather and spend time, maintaining quality services, Police, Street improvements, Parks and Recreation opportunities make DeWitt a place where people want to live.”
DeWitt is constantly increasing budget to help make their city grow. DeWitt wants to make their small city name become a big city feel.
Michigan State University Infrastructure Planning and Facilities, Landscape Architect Deb Kinney believes that there are a lot of ways that a small town can improve their city to attract more families to visit and eventually move to.
Kinney said: “It’s important to hire a planning firm with a lot of experience. DeWitt from a design perspective can make their town more aesthetically pleasing by adding more plants, improving the looks of store fronts, improve lighting, and develop nicer crosswalks.”
Kinney said that it is important for a town or city to have a community feel with presenting their town with different ways to attract families.
Along with making everything in the community aesthetically appealing, DeWitt wants to make their city safer by using Zoning Ordinances. The purpose of using Zoning Ordinances is to help promote public safety, welfare, and health.
DeWitt Township manager Rodney Taylor said: “Zoning defines what the makeup of your community is. We have to make sure that our zoning allows us to move forward with our Comprehensive Development Plan, which lays out the future of our community. We have to make sure the two are in tune with each other to move forward.”
With money being taken away from development of parks around DeWitt, this can raise questions on why DeWitt isn’t improving their park facilities this year. The parks facilities budget decreased from last year’s budget by nearly $21,000. The park facilities budget fluctuates each year. There are a total of nine parks in DeWitt, ranging from sports parks to children parks.
DeWitt resident, Ray Gustafson wasn’t too pleased when he found out about the parks facilities budget decreased from last year but was happy that DeWitt improved the parks last year.
Gustafson said: “They made improvements last year, I remember. If the budget is being put to good use for other funds, then it’s ok that the park’s budget went down. I wasn’t happy initially because I think we should put more money into parks and facilities for the children. If the budget is being used to make my hometown better and attracts more families to move here then I can’t complain.”
Besides using their budget to build up their city, DeWitt has many events residents partake in each month. Coss said residents should take advantage to get involved with all of the events and be connected with each other.
Next year DeWitt will begin construction on a new city hall, located at 414 East Main Street. The $2-million, 8,000-square foot project will include the city administration offices, the police department and community rooms.