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Funding set for Dickinson senior centers

IRON MOUNTAIN — Allocations will rise slightly for several senior citizen centers in Dickinson County in 2022 under a plan approved Monday by the county board.

A county-wide levy of 0.3995 mills, or 40 cents per $1,000 of taxable value, generates revenues for senior citizen programs. The board met Nov. 10 to hear budget requests from center representatives before deciding on a plan to distribute $437,700 in revenues, an increase of about $27,000 from this year.

The Dickinson-Iron Community Services Agency will receive $281,000, up from the current $276,263. DICSA’s share helps provide home-delivered meals and other programs, including support for the Family Ties adult day care center.

Allocations for the five senior centers are —

— $50,000 for Norway, up from $40,000;

— $43,700 for the Dickinson County Senior Center in Iron Mountain, up from $35,000;

— $28,000 for the Breen Center in Kingsford, up from $24,500;

— $25,000 for the Sagola Senior Center, no change;

— $10,000 for the Felch Senior Center, no change.

Commissioner Barbara Kramer noted some centers received less than requested. “We are trying to help as much as we can,” she said.

The Norway center had proposed $60,000 and the Iron Mountain center $48,000.

Norway gets support as well from a levy of 0.5 mills, or 50 cents per $1,000 taxable value, which generates roughly $80,000 from the city of Norway and Norway and Waucedah townships. The Norway center partially separated from DICSA in 2016.

In December 2019, each of the five senior centers received a supplemental allocation of $10,000 paid from a surplus in the senior millage tax fund.

In other action Monday, the county board —

— Observed a moment of silence in memory of Richard J. Celello, who served as 41st Circuit Court judge from 2000 to 2017. He was also district court judge in Dickinson County from 1978 to 1983.

— Made plans to schedule a special meeting with the Dickinson County Healthcare System Board as talks continue on a proposed affiliation agreement with Marshfield Clinic Health System.

— Authorized the purchase of a new NEC phone system for the courthouse and sheriff’s complex from Solutions Telecommunications of Escanaba, at an installed cost of $49,836. Pete Schlitt, emergency services director, provided quotes from several providers. The equipment will include about 100 phones, 130 voice mail boxes, 20 fax machine circuits, 15 analog circuits and a computer server. It should be up and running by the end of January, Schlitt said.

— Met in a closed session to discuss negotiations as contracts expire after Dec. 31 with four collective bargaining units. Earlier, Controller Brian Bousley noted 2022 health insurance rates are expected to rise by about 7.5%.

— Approved a new pay scale for the undersheriff position, setting the starting rate at $60,076, with step increases peaking at $71,981 after three years. This is roughly a $10,000 increase. Current undersheriff Scott Metras will see an about $3,000 increase as he enters the scale, Bousley said.

— Heard Anthony Erickson of Kingsford discourage funding for Michigan State University-Extension programs, claiming they often duplicate services already available. The board is reviewing a request to contribute to 4-H and other Extension programs, something it hasn’t done since 2015. “Don’t send our money downstate and hope you get some of it back,” Erickson said, noting other ways to support youth activities. Commissioner John Degenaer Jr. disagreed, saying “4-H is outstanding and we need to support it.”

— Continues to invite comments on a five-year recreation plan. A survey will be posted soon at https://www.dickinsoncountymi.gov/.

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