By: Benjamin J. Gohs, News Editor
County commissioners tabled a contract wherein the county would fund phase one of the Boyne City to U.S. 31 non-motorized trail before receiving reimbursement payments for the nearly $1 million project.
Discussion on the matter arose during the Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners’ regular Wednesday Oct. 24 meeting.
Funds have been pledged by the following entities in the following amounts to help fund the non-motorized trail:
The $565,900 figure is a grant the county hopes to get from the MDOT enhancement act program—the funds have been applied for and conditionally approved.
The $300,000 figure is a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant that has also been applied for.
“The townships and the city have, by resolution already committed the funds,” Christensen said, adding that the rest of the entities involved have also promised to provide the funds specified.
Newly-elected (he runs unopposed in the general election) District 6 County Commissioner and retired Charlevoix County Planning Director Larry Sullivan said that, approximately a year ago, the Charlevoix County Parks and Recreation Department now handles the trail whereas the planning commission had previously dealt with it.
“The monies are committed by the various entities—that’s not an issue,” Sullivan said.
“The issue in terms of the entirety of the trail needing to be completed or the county would have to pay the funds back … I do not believe that to be the case under any circumstances.”
Sullivan said he believes the county will responsible for more than the initial outlay of $300,000.
“The funds would be reimbursed as we went along to minimize the amount of funds out-of-pocket that are hanging out there waiting to be reimbursed,” Sullivan said.
Browe said the agreement before the board during last week’s meeting granted the county 31 percent of the total costs, not to exceed $300,000, the rest of the monies are either applied for or provided by the previously aforementioned entities.
“Reimbursement will only be on department review,” she said. “Any cost overruns incurred to complete the project shall be the sole responsibility of the grantee—which is the County of Charlevoix.”
Browe added, “By signing this agreement it also states that we will immediately make available all funds needed to incur all necessary costs to complete the project and provide the $654,500 in local match, which is the remaining 69 percent.”
The general sentiment of the board was that their civil counsel review the contract before approving it.
“The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund would not have made the commitment of the $300,000 unless they were a hundred percent certain that the transportation enhancement act funds were also going to be there,” Sullivan said. “It takes an act of the Michigan Legislature to allocate those funds, and they will not do that unless they know that a hundred percent of those funds from the other entities are there.
Charlevoix County Board Chairman Joel Evans said everyone wants the trail, but the county cannot afford to fund it without grant monies.
“For the county to put money into a bicycle trail but we can’t put money into a building on Beaver Island that we need doesn’t make sense to me,” he said.
“We do need the trail for sure, and I promote it. We just need to be careful.”
County officials will revisit the matter once their civil counsel has reviewed the matter.
The deadline to sign and return the contract is Nov. 21.