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Lack of snow could boost IM budget

IRON MOUNTAIN — Fewer plows on the streets during a relatively dry winter has saved about $100,000 in snow removal costs, Iron Mountain City Council members learned Monday.

The budget savings is based on the past several years and can potentially be directed to more paving, City Manager Jordan Stanchina said.

“We’ll have to take a look at it when the season is done,” he said, answering a question from council member Bill Revord on whether there will be a windfall.

March, or even April, could throw a curve into the budget, although storms so far have been infrequent. Data from the National Weather Service shows 33 inches of snow locally since October, with February the snowiest month at 15 inches. A typical annual total is about 60 inches.

Last winter’s total was 72 inches and the winter of 2018-19 included 44 inches in February alone and 78 for the season.

Stanchina noted the city last fall spent an extra $100,000 to resurface Wickman Drive in conjunction with a Lehman Avenue project, so the road budget already has that deficit before any new work is funded.

In other action, the council:

— Set a public hearing for 6 p.m. March 15 on its planned application for a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund grant for a Pewabic Hill mountain bike trail on city property east of Park Avenue and south of Millie Hill Estates Drive. The estimated $300,000 project might require a local contribution of as much as $90,000, but the match could come through private donations and in-kind labor. Dickinson Trail Network is spearheading the venture. It envisions about 6 miles of public trails to complement the Millie Hill Trailhead, a 5-mile system just west of Park Avenue. Stanchina and DTN President Chad Susott said the application might propose a link to Lake Antoine Road via streets in Iron Mountain as a means to improve the grant score. “It’s a connection to other trail systems,” Stanchina said, mentioning Fumee Lake as well as the state’s Iron Belle Trail.

— Agreed to seek bids to grind and polish the shop floor in the Department of Public Works building. The budget includes $17,000 for the project, which will both improve drainage and repair pitted areas in the concrete, said Scott Thomas, DPW supervisor.

— Asked staff to review two bids received for a truck shop LED lighting retrofit in the DPW building. The proposals came from Iron Mountain firms G. Brooks Electric at $9,400 and M.J. Electric at $19,280. “We’ll have to take a look,” Stanchina said of the disparity in bids. The project assumes a We Energies rebate.

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