Kingsford awarded $589,000 in sewer funds


News Editor

KINGSFORD – Kingsford will receive a state grant of nearly $600,000 to evaluate its wastewater and stormwater systems.

City Manager Tony Edlebeck discussed the Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater (SAW) grant during a council meeting Monday. Last week, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality released a list of communities receiving grant and loan awards totaling more than $97 million under the newly inaugurated SAW program, which is designed to help municipalities plan for sewer maintenance needs.

The SAW program was created through legislation enacted in 2012 and is funded through the Great Lakes Water Quality Bond authorized by state voters in 2002.

Kingsford will evaluate sanitary sewer, combined sewer (sanitary sewer and stormwater in a single pipe) and manholes. The study will be limited to components that are more than 30 years old. The work involves cleaning and televising some 130,000 linear feet of pipe, as well as addressing some 565 manholes.

Kingsford’s approved grant amount is $589,438, with a 10 percent city match required. The local funding – $58,944 – can be spread out over three budget years.

“We will need to select an engineer,” Edlebeck noted.

The evaluation – or asset management plan – will include a cost analysis of deficiencies, a work plan for improvements and locations for geographic information systems (GIS) mapping. Such an evaluation is needed to prioritize replacement of lines nearing the end of their lifespans. An asset management plan is also required to seek further grant or loan assistance from the state.

Other Upper Peninsula grant recipients included: Bessemer Township, $361,791; Charter Township of Ironwood, $279,950; Forsyth Township, $195,665; Manistique, $715,03; Marenisco Township, $122,395; Masonville Township, $178,530; Powderhorn Area Utility District, $173,888; and Village of Powers, $188,904.

In other action Monday, the Kingsford council:

– Heard Edlebeck report that water lines throughout the city continue to freeze. The number of lines thawed so far this winter is 127, including 42 in the past two weeks. A total of 287 water services are on “let run” status, meaning a steady flow is ordered to prevent freeze-ups. The city has about 2,600 customers. “We’re hoping the weather is going to start going back the other way now,” Edlebeck said. Earlier this month, the National Weather Service reported record-setting cold from December through February at Iron Mountain-Kingsford.

– Decided to give JMT Development LLC additional time to pay off an accrued balance of $35,782 for 18.13 acres of property acquired from the city in early 2008 for the Riverdale residential development. The purchase cost was $125,000 payable over five years and the final payment is eight months overdue. Rather than seek foreclosure, the city will extend the final payment period for five years, with the first installment due July 1. The Riverdale parcel of 23 residential lots is located along the Menominee River and 18 lots remain vacant. Council members pointed to the financial crisis of September 2008 and its impact on the real estate market as a factor in their decision to allow extra time.

– Adopted, in a 3-1 vote, a policy that restricts council access to payroll information that is considered personal, such as deductions for child support or charitable contributions. The policy also restricts council access to city computers. Council member Brian Smeester wants unhindered access to city computers, saying he has that privilege under the City Charter. Edlebeck described the computer request as “highly irregular” and noted he’s provided Smeester the 2013 gross wage information for all employees, along with statutory deductions, city council approved deductions and contractual deductions. City Attorney Bruce Brouillette advised that personal deductions are not public information. “When you obstruct me, I feel you’re hiding something,” said Smeester, who voted no after a blunt series of interruptions with Mayor Dennis Baldinelli. Council member Michael Flaminio described Smeester’s pursuit of further information as frivolous. “If a council person requires a report of public information, this information can be provided in print form,” Edlebeck said in a memo to the council. Council member Joe Groeneveld was absent.

– Accepted in a 4-0 vote the appointment of council member Cynthia Dixon-Miller to replace Smeester on the auditing committee. Smeester has refused to sign off on city invoices because of his lack of access to all payroll information.

– Decided to apply again for a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Recreation Passport grant of up to $45,000 to help rebuild the four tennis courts at Lodal Park. This will mark the city’s third try for the grant, which requires a $17,000 match.

– Learned that bids will be opened April 21 by the Michigan Department of Transportation for the Westwood Avenue resurfacing project. The council adopted a resolution to accept $251,594 in Transportation Economic Development Category F funding and provide a $62,899 city match. The fiscal year 2014 project will resurface 0.91 miles of Westwood Avenue from Woodward Avenue south to Garfield Street. The all-season route provides access to the city’s industrial area and connects to the county’s all-season road network.

– Agreed to work with the Dickinson County Road Commission to pursue grant funding to resurface Pine Mountain Road. The city’s portion (Westwood Avenue) runs for nearly a mile from Brookfield Avenue north to the city limits at Horseshoe Lane.

– Heard Edlebeck report that U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., continues to work with the Dickinson Area Partnership to protest the planned closing of the Kingsford Mail Processing Center. Businesses throughout the Upper Peninsula are being surveyed, particularly as to whether elimination of overnight mail service would have a negative impact.

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