By JIM ANDERSON
IRON MOUNTAIN - Dickinson County is restoring some funding for Michigan State University-Extension as it continues to draft a 2013 county budget.
The county initially planned to eliminate office space and support staff for Cooperative Extension Services, but has since reconsidered. The revised budget provides office space at an undetermined location and provides funding for at least half-time staffing, said Kay Pascoe, county controller.
Another budget session is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday in the correctional center conference room. A final budget will be presented Monday, Dec. 10.
Dickinson County's initial 2013 budget reduced its Extension allocation by nearly $72,000, but allowed the county to still share a 4-H coordinator with Iron County.
Under the new plan, money that had been set aside as a potential match for a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund grant will be diverted to the Extension. That $45,000 will help the county satisfy a memo of understanding with MSU to maintain a county office with a half-time support person, Pascoe said.
On Monday, Extension District Coordinator Michael Erdman encouraged the county board to increase its allocation to continue full-time support.
No matter the outcome, the county plans to vacate the Extension office located in the mezzanine of the Northern Lights YMCA (former Crystal Lake Community Center) in Iron Mountain. That space will be turned over to the YMCA, while the county looks into a possible Extension office site in Norway, Pascoe said.
The board has explored, and rejected, the option of a tri-county MSU-Extension office that would serve as a base of operations for the educators and 4-H coordinators and MSU support staff for Dickinson, Delta and Menominee counties.
The county board on Monday agreed to contribute $2,500 to the cost of remodeling the YMCA mezzanine - work that carries an estimated $6,000 cost.
The YMCA will pay no rent to the county for the mezzanine, but will assume the cost for swimming pool chemicals currently funded by the county at about $7,500 per year.
The potential DNR grant is for Lake Antoine Park improvements. If the application is successful, there would likely be no project until 2014.
In other action Monday, the county board:
- Authorized a grant application to fund a Dickinson County Unified Tax Assessment and Equalization System. The two-year project would provide $522,795 to update tax assessments county-wide, utilizing aerial photography and digital building sketches. No county match is required. Each property would be reappraised or re-evaluated by a certified assessor. A pilot project in Masonville Township in Delta County resulted in a 5.6 percent increase in property tax revenues from the identification of taxable improvements previously missing from the tax rolls and a savings of $50 per parcel as compared to a traditional reappraisal. The potential Dickinson County project vendor, AIS Marketing Inc., created, funded and executed the pilot demonstration. The project would be funded by the Michigan Department of Treasury's Competitive Grant Assistance Program and is one of six being proposed by AIS in the U.P., said Larry Swartout, Dickinson County equalization director. According to the grant application, the anticipated 5 percent increase in property tax revenues would total nearly $12.7 million over five years.
- Authorized Sheriff Scott Celello to fill an open certified deputy position. The office has been running one officer short in recent months because of a termination, Celello said. In addition, an off-duty officer was wounded in what Iron Mountain Police Department said was an accidental shooting on Thanksgiving Day.
- Authorized Otis Elevator of Marquette to perform state-mandated full-load pressure relief valve tests on the elevators in the courthouse and correctional center at an estimated cost of $3,200. The testing is required every three years.
Jim Anderson's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.