County moves forward with Rose Lake Drain culvert project

Osceola County Parks Commission Chair Morris Langworthy and Parks Director Carl Baumgras (both on right) speak with County Commissioners about the Rose Lake Drain culvert replacement project during Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting. County officials agreed to borrow nearly $40,000 from the delinquent tax fund to help pay for the $53,000 project. The Parks Commission will pay $14,753 of the project. (Pioneer photo/Brandon Fountain)

REED CITY — Amid a pending general fund budget shortfall in 2018, the nearly $53,700 project to replace the Rose Lake Drain culvert at the county park is moving ahead now.

Coming to a consensus regarding the county’s responsibility to the park, Osceola County commissioners agreed to take on the brunt of the project’s price tag during their Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday morning. Officials agreed to borrow $39,500 from the county’s delinquent tax fund, with the Parks Commission paying $14,753.

The scope of the project involves replacing the current metal culvert with a cement culvert. The Parks Commission recommended the bid from contractor DJ McQuestion, of LeRoy, as it was the lowest at $49,202. Parks Director Carl Baumgras said engineering fees will not exceed $4,500.

During discussion at previous meetings, county commissioners, Baumgras and Parks Commission Chair Morris Langworthy all agreed the project needed to be done; however, Langworthy and Baumgras noted the Parks Commission had limited funds it could provide. Early engineering work estimated the project would cost about $70,000.

“The Parks Commission started taking public reservations for next year early, raising between $18,000 to $19,000,” Langworthy told commissioners. “We’re literally taking next year’s funds now to fund what we can of this project.

“We have to be very, very careful how to approach this.”

County Coordinator Susan Vander Pol told commissioners the only viable option for funding would be to borrow from the county’s delinquent tax fund, if the board felt it could help with the project. Officials also suggested the Parks Commission could borrow from the fund to pay for the project.

However, Commissioner Mark Gregory said officials needed to see a cost before determining how much they could put into the project.

“I believe the county holds a fair amount of responsibility for that drain, more so than the parks,” he said. “That drain was originally done by the Department of Natural Resources and boat launch, too, and turned over to the county.”

Approval came, with the terms of the county’s loan from the fund to be worked out later.

In other action from Tuesday’s meeting, county commissioners approved:

• Amending the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan 2017 Older Americans Act contract amendment with the Commission on Aging, with final year adjustments being made to the funds the COA receives for its meals program;

• Writing off $40,859 of bad debt for Emergency Medical Services. So far in 2017, EMS has written off nearly $56,000 in bad debt, which represents the amount of money the department’s collection agency has been unable to recover for services;

• A resolution opposing any future reduction or elimination of federal funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiation;

• Contracting with the Anderson Tackman Company to perform the county’s 2017 audit for $27,500;

• Appointing Carole Edstrom to the Health and Human Services Board through Oct. 31, 2020; and

• Supporting Isabella County’s request to amend the Central Michigan District Health Department Sanitary Code to include inspection of water supply and sewage disposal at the point of sale or land transfer, 6-1. Commissioner Pam Wayne voted no. Supporting the request does not mean the code is changed for Osceola County residents.

Items approved by members during the Committee of the Whole meeting were later passed at the Board of Commissioners meeting.

The next Committee of the Whole meeting is set for 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7, at the Osceola County Courthouse.

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Posted by Brandon Fountain

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