Dickinson to hire consultant on virus aid

IRON MOUNTAIN — Dickinson County will seek the services of consultant before making a decision on how to spend the nearly $5 million it will receive through the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan Act.

Failure to comply with legislative guidelines would mean a loss of funding and county board members are concerned the rules aren’t precise enough to prevent a misstep.

The board Monday authorized Controller Brian Bousley to solicit proposals from approved ARP consulting firms and potentially offer a contract. The consultant would be expected to provide oversight and guidance to guarantee compliance, Bousley said.

“They can estimate our lost revenue (as a result of COVID-19) and we can run any projects by them,” he said. “It takes liability off of the county.”

ARP’s $362 billion in federal fiscal recovery aid for state and local governments included $65.1 billion in direct aid to counties, with payments based on population. Dickinson County received $2.45 million in May and is due to receive another $2.45 million before next summer.

Local governments have until Dec. 31, 2024, to obligate all of the ARP funds, and until Dec. 31, 2026, to fully expend them.

Allowable uses of ARP funds include necessary investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure, as well as assistance to mitigate the negative economic effects of the pandemic. The funds can’t be used for pensions, or for tax cuts, according to the National Association of Counties.

Commissioner Barbara Kramer said Iron County officials have so far been pleased with the services of a consultant hired there. Money from Dickinson County’s first payment has been placed in an interest-bearing account.

In other action Monday, the county board:

— Approved hiring Bacco Construction Co. of Iron Mountain for $91,325 to install water and sewer line connections for hangars at Ford Airport. Wet conditions at the site have delayed the project in the past and Bacco will be required to do some dewatering, Bousley noted. No other contractors offered proposals and the work will be completed this fall if materials are available, he added. The utilities are for hangars occupied by CSA Air and MJ Electric, as well as a new county hangar under construction, and potentially others.

— Agreed to seek proposals on renovating the Fontana Terminal building at Ford Airport to accommodate a machine that will screen for explosives. The unit is being provided at no cost through a federal offer, but the county will have to provide space for the machine, which is 16 feet long and 4 feet wide, Bousley said.

— Approved buying a T76 T4 Bobcat compact track loader and attachments for the airport from Midway Rentals Inc. of Negaunee, at a total price of $66,406.

— Heard Sheriff Scott Rutter report there were “a few incidents” during the recently completed Dickinson County Fair but “overall it went well.” Commissioner John Degenaer Jr., who chairs the fair board, thanked the sheriff’s department for “outstanding service” during the five-day event. It was a very successful fair, Degenaer said, adding that a summary should be available by the county board’s Sept. 27 meeting.

— Thanked all who participated in the Crafty Flea Market on Saturday at Lake Antoine Park to benefit Lake Antoine Park Partners and The Daily News’ Newspapers in Education program. “It was a good event and we look forward to holding it again next year,” said Commissioner Joe Stevens, parks committee chairman. LAPP plans a Fall Fest at the park Oct. 2 and a holiday lights display Dec. 5-19, Kramer said.

— Approved a request from Iron Hills Cycling Team to use the west lot at the Fumee Lake Natural Area for a bike race Oct. 9.


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