Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Ironwood city commission approves budget


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Ironwood — The Ironwood City Commission on Monday approved its fiscal budget and property tax levy for 2020-2011.

The commission 4-1 adopted a resolution to approve millage rates for city services and to authorize the collection of a 1% tax administration fee and fee schedule. Commissioner Joseph Cayer went against the action with concern over a 2.5% water and sewer rate increase.

Cayer questioned the commission’s decision to include the Consumer Price Index adjustment to keep up with costs for fuel and electricity. The adjustment was put in place by the commission several years ago and has the authority to apply it or not.

Commissioner Rick Semo said the Gogebic Iron Wastewater Authority has already imposed the increase which is automatically passed on to the three municipalities which share the costs, Ironwood, Ironwood Township, and Hurley.

Cayer said he wanted to know first if the other municipalities were also approving the CPI increase to their residents.

Paul Linn, city treasurer and finance officer, said the commission has the authority to amend its budget at any time during the fiscal year. In his report, Linn said that several projects were moved to the 2021-22 budget.

The city property tax will raise an estimated $1.9 million of the total $13.68 million in revenue including all funds. The 29.6658 mills levy for July 1 through June 30, 2021, includes 19.2 mills for the general fund; 6.5 mills for the police and fire pension fund; 2 mills for the 2015 street bond debt service; 1 mill for the civic center fund, and 0.9658 mills for the library fund.

In accordance with state law, the city will impose a 1% property tax administrative fee and a 3% late penalty fee to be applied to a separate account. Another state law authorized levy of 1.9414 mills will go against the C-2 Zoned Downtown Commercial District to fund the Downtown Development Authority.

In his report, Scott Erickson, city manager, said the staff is now working full time in the Memorial building again after working remotely since March. The building will be open to the public on Monday.

Play structures and restrooms in area parks should be opening up within a few days to a week, he said. Information and guidance signs are completed and being installed.

Curry Park is scheduled to open for camping on July 1. Safety measures for water and sewer are being completed for the campers.

The commission approved two bid recommendations from city staff and Coleman Engineering Company.

The commission 5-0 approved the low bid from Ruotsala Construction in the amount of $1.22 million as the construction contractor for the Downtown City Square Project. The bid amount is within the project budget and is contingent upon receiving authorization from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

The two other bids were from Angelo Luppino Inc. and Nasi Construction.

The commission approved the second-lowest bid of $14,670 from Future Plumbing to install touchless faucets in all city facilities and parks. The low bid could not be accepted because the company does not have a plumber who is licensed in Michigan, according to Karen Gullan, city clerk.

The other bids came from Giovanoni True Value, M&M Plumbing, Tom’s Plumbing and A to Z Plumbing.

The touchless faucets are a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the best way to provide sinks that minimize hand contact with equipment, Erickson said.

The commission approved a request from the Historic Ironwood Theatre. for a six-month extension of its monthly lease payment of $702.50.

Zona Wick, theater board president, said the theater has been dark for three months and that it is not clear how soon productions and other programming would be able to start with the end of the COVID-19 shutdown. It could be a few months or much longer, she said.

The four-year lease was to allow the city to fund a $42,000 theater roof project. The action extends the term of lease for six months.

The commission went into executive session to discuss the AFSCME Local 1538 collective bargaining agreement. None of the commissioners called for a motion to approve the agreement upon return from the closed session.

In other business, the commission approved:

—A two-year water meter reading contract extension to RED Construction with a 0.0196 cent increase per meter adjustment each year.

—A resolution requiring an application with no permit fee to restaurants and city businesses to create outdoor safe spaces for customers and employees that does circumvent building permits but allows flexibility of existing space.

—Directing city public works staff to conduct blight debris removal at 205 N. Curry St. with the cost assessed through a property tax levy against the property.

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