Dickinson to upgrade security cameras

IRON MOUNTAIN — Dickinson County will seek a $26,000 grant through the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority to upgrade security cameras at the correctional center.

The application requires a $10,000 match from the county, which is available in the sheriff’s department budget, said Controller Brian Bousley.

Also, the county will seek an additional $1,500 from MMRMA for three new Tasers, which will require a $2,000 match.

MMRMA is a self-insurance pool that provides liability and property coverage to municipal governments across the state. Grant funding is available through its Risk Avoidance Program.

Applications were authorized Monday by the county board.

In other action, the board heard a presentation and held a brief discussion with state Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain.

LaFave said he hopes “dark store” legislation will pass the Senate so that big-box retailers are held to the same accounting rules as homes and small businesses.

Legislation that would require the Michigan Tax Tribunal to make independent determinations in deciding commercial property dispute cases has been reintroduced in the House, where it passed easily last year, only to die in the Senate without a hearing.

Big-box stores have successfully argued to the tax panel that their taxes should be drastically reduced by using what’s known as the “dark store” argument. The stores argue that the value of their store should be compared to the value of older closed and vacant stores.

LaFave, on other issues:

— Said he’s introduced a bill to ban Bridge Card users from applying their food benefits to soda can deposits. This would prevent recipients from converting a portion of their card’s buying power into cash.

— In response to an inquiry from the board, acknowledged that property tax exemptions for disabled veterans is a good program, but said more should be done to reimburse local governments, or possibly place limits on the program. The county is now losing about $26,000 in operating revenues annually, for which it receives no direct state reimbursement.

— Said he’s introduced a House resolution urging President Trump and the U.S. Congress to continue funding Essential Air Service. “This whole board is working on that extremely hard,” said Commissioner Joe Stevens. LaFave said EAS is essential to the economic well-being of the region. Later in the meeting, Bousley noted there were 1,712 passenger boardings at Dickinson County’s Ford Airport in March. EAS subsidies, totaling $175 million, allow for commercial air service at 173 small airports, including Ford Airport and four others in the Upper Peninsula. Trump’s proposed budget targets the program for elimination.

In other action, the board:

— Scheduled a joint meeting with the Dickinson County Fair Board for 6 p.m. Monday, April 17, to discuss its request to borrow $250,000 for fairground improvements. In 2014, the former Al’s Appliance building from the 500 block of Main Street in Norway was donated to the fair by the Ebeling family of Norway. The building has been disassembled and funding is needed to erect it and provide enhancements. The metal building measures more than 6,000 square feet.

— Heard Stevens report that James Brown has been hired as the new veterans service officer for the Dickinson County Office of Veterans Affairs. Until Brown becomes fully certified later this year, he will work with the current officer, Michael Miller, who then will step aside.

— Approved a six-month contract on a trial basis with Trico Opportunities Inc. of Kingsford to provide janitorial services at a rate of $47.28 per day, five days a week.

— Adjusted its contract with BS&A Software of Bath Township to eliminate timesheets and fixed assets applications, resulting in a savings of $18,640 from an estimated $200,000 project. BS&A is installing a new software system to centralize county records across numerous departments.

— Reappointed Dave Brisson and Ron Milbrath to three-year terms on the Dickinson County Road Commission.

— In a 3-2 vote, appointed Mary Girard, a former deputy county clerk, to a six-year term on the Dickinson County Jury Board, replacing Barb Oliver. Chairman Henry Wender and commissioners Barbara Kramer and John Degenaer Jr. voted for Girard, while Stevens and Commission Ann Martin voted for Oliver.

— Appointed Sara Bietila to a three-year term on the Dickinson County Planning Commission. Two vacancies on the panel remain.

— Approved the purchase of a commercial tow-behind leaf blower from Riesterer & Schnell for $4,560. The equipment will be used for parks cleanup and potentially for sand removal at Ford Airport.

— Heard Kramer relay a complaint from a Lake Antoine resident about anglers leaving garbage on the ice. “All that’s doing is polluting the lake,” she said. Sheriff Scott Rutter said the Michigan Department of Natural Resources can be alerted to this enforcement issue.