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Marquette County Board to review millage, approves Sawyer projects

Joe Derocha, commissioner, Marquette County Board

MARQUETTE — The Marquette County Board of Commissioners supported a legal review of changes to Marq-Tran’s millage, supported motorized boating at Silver Lake and approved projects in K.I. Sawyer at its Tuesday meeting.

This is the final year of the Marquette County Transit Authority’s six-year millage authorization and Marq-Tran is asking for a millage renewal to be placed on the primary ballot in August, according to board documents.

The proposed millage is 0.6 mills or 60 cents per $1,000 of taxable valuation of real and personal property for the years 2020-26. Taxes collected the first year would amount to around $1.46 million.

“We will need the same amount of millage to maintain the current level of service in Marquette County. Like all other entities, we have been challenged with state and federal operating grants that have not kept pace with increased expenses,” Marq-Tran’s proposal states.

The board voted to have a legal review of the language before its approval and will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday via Zoom to approve the millage language.

Information on how to join the webinar, call into the meeting and participate in the public comment portion of the meeting can be found by visiting www.co.marquette.mi.us/county_government/board_of_commissioners/current_meetings.php#.XrWhkmhKjIU and viewing the special meeting agenda.

A resolution in support of motorized boating access to Silver Lake Basin was also approved by the board.

Commissioner Joe Derocha worked with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources on the access issue.

“Over the last several months (the DNR) held several public meetings in regards to numerous options at Silver Lake Basin, that’s a seven-mile body of water and can certainly support motorized boating,” Derocha said. “One of the options that became alarming to some of the fishermen and people that use that on a regular basis, was that they were going to move the boat landing for numerous reasons because there had been camping going on. And there’s no camping facility specifically there. The DNR was looking at moving that to a walk-in, carry, kayak-style boat launch.”

He added that the land was purchased for public access using public tax funds.

“Anytime we take state money or funds we should be doing everything humanly possible to make it available for not only handicap (but) for full access,” Derocha said.

The resolution passed by the board states its support of “keeping the Silver Lake Basin open for motorized boating access to the general public in perpetuity.”

The board approved a bid of just under $178,000 from Prime Specialty Contracting LLC for the wastewater treatment plant influent pumping improvement project at K.I. Sawyer. Prime Specialty was the lowest of the two bids received.

The total cost to implement the improvements was originally estimated at $165,000, but the “cost for construction and engineering fees exceed the cost completion estimate by $33,950, which brings the overall project cost to $198,950,” board documents state.

While a $100,000 grant was awarded by The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for the project, the remaining $98,000 will need to be funded locally and the necessary funding is available in the repair reinvestment account established for these types of projects, board documents state.

A construction administration agreement between Marquette County and Mead & Hunt — contingent on the award of the Federal Aviation Administration’s 2020 Airport Improvement Program grant — was also approved for pavement marking and crack sealing at Sawyer International Airport.

The construction administration agreement portion of the project is estimated at a cost of $19,550 with a total estimated project cost of $220,000.

The project is preventative maintenance routinely scheduled every two to three years to remain compliant with FAA regulations, board documents state.

“Fortunately, this grant under the COVID-19 crisis has been awarded 100% federal funding,” said Airport Manager Duane DuRay. “There normally would have been a 5% local share but now under the COVID-19 crisis, the (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act) we end up with 100% federal funding.”

Commissioners questioned the cost of just the administration portion of the project, but DuRay noted before the board’s approval, that preliminary costs and contracts are submitted to the state for review and that it’s important to ensure there is project oversight to meet FAA guidelines.

At the meeting the board also:

≤ Appointed Nina van den Ende to a vacant seat on the Marquette County Board of Health.

≤ Approved a one-year contract extension for Marquette County Health Officer Gerald Messana

≤ Approved amendments to the first quarter of the county’s fiscal year 2020 budget

Trinity Carey can be reached at tcarey@miningjournal.net.

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