Rescue plan

Mecosta County commits $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to townships for roads

MECOSTA COUNTY – All 16 townships of Mecosta County will feel some relief the stress of fund road repairs over the next two years as the County Board of Commissioners approves a $1 million commitment to help finance building projects.

The council, as recommended by the finance committee, approved a matching grant program to help townships with road improvement projects at its meeting this week by a 5-1 vote, the Commissioner Tom O’Neil voting no. Commissioner Jerrilyn Strong, who attended the meeting remotely, was not entitled to vote.

The program will set aside $1 million from lost revenue replacement funds received from the state for road repair assistance.

“The roads are a tender because technically they are not the responsibility of the county commission,” Chairman Bill Routley said. “We have been discussing for several years how we could do a good neighborly gesture and do something to help them (the townships). I think the cantons will appreciate that.

Details of the proposal indicate that up to $1 million in funding will be available during the 2022 and 2023 construction periods, to allow for maximum township participation. Townships wishing to participate in the program will need to match county funds up to $62,500, meaning if they spend $62,500, the county will match $62,500. If they spend less, the county will match the amount spent.

All projects must be approved and administered by the county road commission. No funds will go directly to the townships, but will instead go to the road commission.

County funds will not be released until the road project is completed and the highway commission bills the county. Any unused portion of the funds will remain in the county’s general fund account to be applied to other items as determined by the commission.

“I clarify that this will be one-time funding, and if the townships don’t use the money, it will stay with us,” Routley said. “In conjunction with the Highways Commission’s commitment of $1 million in road funding for the townships, with matching funds, (it) will bring the proposal total to $3 million. Some cantons are doing even more in road projects, so kudos to them.

Following the road commission’s pledge last year of $1 million to be divided equally among the 16 townships in an effort to help repair the roads, Green Township Supervisor Jim Chapman presented to the Board of County Commissioners A Townships Roadside Assistance Project Resolution asking the county to also set aside $1 million to match road commission funding.

The board voted to send the resolution to the finance committee for further consideration.

In December, the finance committee declined to recommend the request for board approval, suggesting they should wait and see what a pending federal infrastructure bill would do for roads.

The county received $4.2 million in 2021 and an additional $4.2 million in 2022 in lost state revenue replacement funds, after a U.S. Treasury Department ruling that allowed municipalities to claim a standard award of up to $10 million from ARPA funds for loss of earnings. , rather than performing a full calculation of lost revenue.

County Administrator Paul Bullock previously said taking the standard allowance would allow the county to use the money for normal government spending.

The finance committee was tasked with developing a plan to use funds to replace lost income.