SAGINAW, MI – Saginaw County officials this week approved spending $ 11.6 million in federal stimulus money on $ 37 million in 18 projects.
The decision at the meeting on Tuesday, June 21, marked the official one-day investment by the Saginaw County Board of Commissioners for American Rescue Planning Act funds, which took power over a year ago.
Plans approved Tuesday include construction and maintenance initiatives at county-owned facilities, the establishment of a new affordable housing program and funding for seven township fire agencies.
Managers, however, said the projects are under scrutiny by the county-hired consultant group, Guidhouse, which determines whether the initiatives meet US Treasury Department-written rules limiting stimulus spending. Saginaw County regulator Robert Belleman said if any projects fail to meet that standard, incentives could be denied.
The board voted 10-0 in favor of all 18 stimulus-related investments on Tuesday. Republican Rep. Kyle Harris, who represents the Southwest Saginaw County district, was absent for the meeting.
About $ 11 million of hype remains to be caught. The commissioners may invest the remaining funds for approximately 70 project proposals submitted by agencies and individuals not affiliated with county operations.
The board must decide how to spend the stimulus by December 2024 or risk losing change according to federal guidelines.
The county has spent about $ 3 million of the $ 26 million in stimulus investments so far commissioned by commissioners, Belleman said.
Changing the AC
Replacing the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at Saginaw County Governmental Center, 111 S. Michigan, is the most valuable plan Tuesday.
County records indicate that the initiative would cost as much as $ 5 million for asbestos removal and the expected work of replacing the ceilings within a 50-year-old facility.
The county clerk’s office accepted two projects, each costing $ 1 million.
One of the $ 1 million investments will fund a county-run affordable housing program.
Saginaw County Clerk Vanessa Guerra said the initiative includes the rehabilitation of owner-occupied housing, assessment of housing conditions, down payment assistance and the creation of a county workforce focused on affordable housing needs.
Moving Documents Online
The clerk’s second $ 1 million project funds the digitization of county records, including old court case files and marriage and death certificates.
“We need a concerted effort to digitize court records before it becomes more expensive to make them down the road,” Guerra wrote in the project proposal. “Our state will soon reach a point where such digitization is required by law, and if we don’t make this effort a priority now, we will pay more down the road.”
County records indicate the clerk requested $ 2 million to digitize more than 211,500 records. It is unclear how many records the $ 1 million contains.
Fixing aged buildings
Commissioners approved $ 1.6 million for the Saginaw County Commission on Aging to fund repairs at the county-run Eleanor Frank Sr. Center in Saginaw Township, 2355 Schuster; And the Mary Davis Senior Center, 233 N. 2nd Ave.
The Aging Commission receives $ 130,212 in stimulus funding to offset the estimated revenue loss caused by 2020-21 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic-related challenges.
Adaptation to ADA
The county’s Parks and Recreation Office receives up to $ 1 million in funding for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – two county-operated properties in Saginaw Township with concessions and restrooms: a 76-acre Hyattko and a 96-acre Irman.
Brian Keenan-Lechel, director of Saginaw County Parks and Recreation, said part of the plan for the restrooms involves upgrading existing facilities and adding gender-neutral bathroom units.
Preparing for the storm
The county’s Public Works office spends up to $ 1 million on construction of the storm drainage infrastructure, although the exact plan to get the money remains in the air.
In their pitch for stimulus dollars, Public Works staff submitted a list of 14 projects for consideration – totaling $ 29.6 million – but on Tuesday the Board of Commissioners reduced the cost to $ 1 million.
Belleman said the board could choose which of the proposed projects to receive during the Tuesday, Aug. 16, meeting.
Saginaw County Emergency Management and Homeland Security receives up to $ 300,000 for a position for three years.
The employee acts as a coordinator, with responsibilities attached to the clerk position before being eliminated to tighten the budget, county records indicate.
The Board of Commissioners approved $ 45,241 for repairs to both the Harry Brown Airport Building and the storm drain on the Buena Vista Township-based airport property.
Fighting fire with money
All of Tuesday’s hype decisions had no effect on county-run services.
The commissioners voted to provide up to $ 75,000 each to seven fire agencies within Saginaw County, including fire departments in the towns of Albie, Bridgeport, James, Spalding and Taymouth. The St. Charles-based Tri-Township Fire Department and the Chessing-Brady Fire Department are also included.
County records show that those funds – totaling $ 525,000 – will buy firefighting equipment, including turnout gear, oxygen tanks and breathing apparatus.
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