Commissioners pursue 2nd bridge, accept first payment from CCMH, approve union agreement and wage increases
Houghton County Commissioners, Dec. 14, 2021
A Freedom of Information Act request has been filed with the county to obtain:
Summary of accounts payable
Draft letter concerning the possibility of a new bridge
Sheriff’s union agreement
Summary sheet for the wage increase of appointed and elected officials
Quarterly budget amendments
County Administrator Elizabeth Bjorn drafted a letter about the funding for a new bridge crossing the Portage Lake waterway. Commissioners Glenn Anderson and Tom Tikkanen are taking the lead on reviewing this letter. The two commissioners also met with several people from KEDA, MDOT, local city managers, and Michigan Tech to discuss the possibility of pursuing a second bridge. They concluded that a feasibility study is a necessary first step. They also highlighted that other waterway crossings such as a tunnel or tube are also possible.
Through an agreement that Councilor Tom Tikkanen credited Chairperson Al Koskela for reaching with Copper Country Community Health, the county has received a $46,500 check for the transportation of mental health patients by the county sheriff.
If all other involved counties agree, the case will not go to court. Commissioner Glenn Anderson said that the dollar amount of the settlement has not been confirmed yet and that he hopes to learn more specifics at an upcoming meeting.
With no public discussion or available draft, the county commissioners voted unanimously to approve an unknown pending agreement. Later in the meeting, in response to a question from County Treasurer Lisa Mattila during public comment, it was revealed that the agreement was part of a third-year reopener, for a $3 per hour raise for 2023, the last year of the deal.
In the ongoing effort to place new, modern monuments for establishing property boundaries, the commissioners heard from the remonumentation program representative. The effort has been ongoing since the 1990s, and the representative estimates the county is roughly 30% done. Funding for the effort is tied to property deed registration fees and a state grant calculation.
The commissioners voted to approve a wage increase for the appointed and elected offices that is equal to the courthouse union. Administrator Elizabeth Bjorn referred the commissioners to a summary sheet that was not available to the public but said that the raise would be $0.80 an hour for 2022, $0.60 in 2023, and $0.50 in 2024.
The U.S. Coast Guard “explicitly said no” to keeping the Portage Lake Lift Bridge in the down position during morning and evening rush hours.
Tikkanen reports that the DNR expects the trail between Dollar Bay and Lake Linden should be complete by this time next year.
The Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund has awarded $300,000 to developing the Houghton-Douglas Falls park.
The heating system in the Sheriff’s Department has failed and is expected to take a few weeks to replace.
The commission accepted the sole bid, for $1,000 and cost of removal from the facility, on the cardboard compactor at the county transfer station.
Two members of the CCMH board resigned and were replaced by the board.