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Budget addressed by Marquette County Board | News, Sports, Jobs – Marquette Mining Journal

Jun 10, 2022
MARQUETTE — The Marquette County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved two budget amendments, one of which adds to the Public Improvement Fund for five jail projects using American Rescue Plan Act revenue loss funds.
One amendment involves transferring $294,000 to the Public Improvement Fund while the other amends the budget for the related following projects:
≤ $16,000 to purchase a LiveScan machine to be placed in the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office lobby so the public does not have to enter the jail facility for fingerprinting services;
≤ $28,000 for body cameras for jail employees;
≤ $70,000 to renovate jail shower stalls;
≤ $60,000 to purchase jail software to replace current software that no longer is supported; and
≤ $120,000 to convert a lower level storage room to an observation cell.
Several residents spoke to the commissioners regarding the need for better child care services in the county and whether ARPA funds could be used for those purpose.
One of those residents was Shilpa Jhobalia of Marquette Township, a parent liaison for the Great Start Collaborative and a mother of three young children.
She acknowledged parents have shared with her their concerns about finding affordable and available child care.
“Families are put on wait lists that are often one to two years long, and this often results in a parent being forced to leave their job because there are simply not enough child care spots available to adequately fulfill the needs of our community,” Jhobalia said.
She requested that the board increase ARPA funding allocation for child care.
Board Chairman Gerry Corkin acknowledged the possibility of the county working with another entity to garner grant funding.
“We realize it’s a problem and we’re looking to see if there’s a way to effectively use some of our money,” Corkin said.
Commissioner Steve Adamini said the county is obligated to maintain a jail that is clean and not make anyone sick.
He told the residents who spoke to the board, “I don’t want you to think that we’re not well aware of your problem.”
However, Adamini noted that money the county could obtain would not be in the millions or even hundreds of thousands, but stressed he would keep in mind what the child care advocates were asking in order to alleviate the problem.
Commissioner Bill Nordeen pointed out that ARPA funding is one-time money.
“The child care issue is an ongoing problem,” he said.
Nordeen said he is unsure of a solution.
“I think the conversation needs to continue,” Nordeen said.
Airport grant OK’d
The Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program grant for Sawyer International Airport in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Transportation aeronautics sponsor contract.
The agreements will involve completion of engineering of nearly 3 miles of pavement resurfacing for taxiways and the construction of a new segment of one taxiway. The grant includes a federal share of $347,040; a state of Michigan share of $19,280; and a local share of $19,280 for a total of $385,600.
Duane DuRay, Sawyer director of operations, said the project will be completed in two phases. The first phase, which will be this year, will include the design phase. Construction will take place in 2023 as part of the second phase.
DuRay said airport services will not shut down, although there may be instances in which aircraft will be rerouted to different areas of the airfield.
In other business, the commissioners unanimously passed a resolution opposing a proposed change to the Wagner-Peyser Act. The U.S. Department of Labor, according to the resolution, has proposed the reversal of current federal policy that allows states maximum flexibility in staffing to provide employment services. Current policy allows the state of Michigan to use local merit staff employees for these services through Michigan Works! agencies.
The resolution states that with the new required staffing model, staff would be reduced to about 100 Michigan employees, resulting in significantly longer wait times for job seekers and service delays.
The resolution also states that the county urges the U.S. Department of Labor to abandon the proposed rule change, and urges Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan congressional delegation to support local control. A copy of the resolution was to be sent to U.S. employment and training administraiton, USDOL, Whitmer, U.S. legislators and state legislators.
Corkin expressed concern over out-of-region staff handling local employment services.
“You know how it is when you’re this far away from Lansing,” he said.
The commissioners also approved this year’s tax rate request for the county, with the county operations millage requested to be levied on July 1, set at 5.2446 mills.
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