Ironwood scores well on audit
January 13, 2021
By TOM LAVENTURE
Ironwood — The city of Ironwood received high marks on its annual budget audit, according to remarks from the auditing firm during a work session prior to the regular meeting of the Ironwood City Commission on Monday.
Details of the audit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020, were presented by Tony Pollack, a CPA with Makela, Pollack & Ahonen, P.L.L.C., the city’s contracted auditing firm, and Paul Linn, the city finance director and treasurer. The presentation noted that most activity occurred prior to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the city budget but noted the results still show the city administration has sound financial statements.
Pollack said the audit resulted in the city receiving an “unmodified (clean) opinion” on its financial statements and information included in the report. He said the city improved from the previous year with a significant increase in business activity, governmental activities, and changes in financial position and cash flows.
“I would like to thank Paul (Linn) and his department for their great work and the unmodified clean report,” said Mayor Annette Burchell.
The city is now scheduling workshops, goal setting sessions and activities related to the next budget cycle, said Scott Erickson, city manager.
In the COVID-19 response update, Erickson said an announcement from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office is expected by Thursday, to note of any changes to the state’s COVID-19 order.
Andrew DiGiorgio, director of Ironwood Public Safety Department, said the city completed its phase 1A COVID-19 vaccine rollout to healthcare workers and staff and residents of long term care facilities. The city held a vaccination event at the Memorial Building on Monday for remaining Phase 1A individuals and to start Phase 1B for individuals ages 75 and older not already vaccinated; frontline responders; school and childcare staff; corrections staff and other essential frontline workers.
“There were 217 vaccinations,” DiGiorgio said.
Individuals who meet phase 1A or 1B standards should contact the Western Upper Peninsula Department of Health, Aspirus Health Care, or their physician to schedule a vaccination, DiGiorgio said. People who have been vaccinated will still need a second booster in 20 days.
The state recommendations can change fast and DiGiorgio said residents should watch for announcements. The vaccinations show progress toward a “new normal,” he said, but the best prevention is to continue masking, social distancing and washing hands.
Linn said the city applied for public safety and public health payroll reimbursement grant funds several months ago to reimburse the city for COVID-19 related payroll expenses with the public safety department for April and May. The amount of requests exceeded $200 million statewide and so the prorated amount the city received is $131,000 of the $198,000 requested.
Linn said the city will need to start planning for a new fire truck purchase in the next few years. This will require setting some dollars aside annually to afford the major purchase when it is needed, he said.
Tom Bergman, director of community development, said the $900 billion federal COVID-19 relief package is implemented through the Paycheck Protection Program. There are two application phases that start with first time business applicants, followed by businesses that have applied for previous support.
“There will be economic disaster loans through the SBA as well,” Bergman said.
Gov. Whitmer recently signed legislation for the survival grant that will be available through Michigan Economic Development Corporation, he said. These grants will be similar to the restart grant that was offered in 2020.
The Michigan Strategic Fund will review the appropriation on Friday and it should hopefully start soon after, Bergman said. The funds need to be distributed by the end of February and so there will likely be a short application window of a week or less, he said.
In the city manager’s report, Erickson said the city department of public works crews will be repairing a leak on a 16 inch water transmission main. This is a “significant undertaking” that will start in a few days and last up to two weeks.
The city has redundant mains and customer service should not be impacted, Erickson said.
In other business, the city commission approved:
—The mayor’s reappointment of Sam Davey and Nancy Korpela to three year terms on the Ironwood Planning Commission, expiring Dec. 31, 2023.
—A $20,816.88 balancing change order to Angelo Luppino, Inc. for 2019 Local Street Paving Program for paving downtown alleys and street patch work completed in summer 2020. The funds come from the city streets and utilities fund.
—Directed city staff to organize a workshop on city employee leave time buyback for COVID-19 related illness or exposure.
—Adopting a non-discrimination on the basis of handicap to remain compliant with Community Development Block Grant program policies.
—An annual option-out resolution to comply with Public Act 152 regarding city employee medical benefit plan coverage.