Keweenaw shares state road money

HOUGHTON – As has been shown as recently as this morning, keeping the roads in good condition this winter has been a daunting – and expensive – task.

Copper Country counties, cities and villages were among those in the state getting a combined $60.9 million to supplement road maintenance budgets strained by a lengthy winter.

The money is part of a one-time $100 million appropriations bill approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder last month. How much each area got was determined according to the Public Act 51 road funding formula.

Houghton County Highway Engineer Kevin Harju said the county had incurred a $500,000 increase in snow removal costs this winter, which will be partially offset by the $256,829 it received.

“It does help tremendously,” he said. “However, it doesn’t make us whole.”

The Village of Ontonagon uses its portion of the county’s 5 mills for road maintenance to supplement state funds. Usually, that’s enough to not only plow the streets, but also do some paving and maintenance, said Village Manager Joe Erickson. This year, the village has already had to use the money it had budgeted.

“The additional $11,000, that’s a couple snowstorms for us here,” he said. “It’s not going to be a huge help, but it’s nice to at least get some extra funds when conditions are the way they were this year.”

Houghton received $37,322, which City Manager Eric Waara said takes care of the bulk of the city’s overage, though certainly not all.

He said the city’s crews have been able to do a good job of working efficiently to keep the city’s cost down.

“It’s nice getting these dollars,” he said back on Thursday afternoon, a simpler, less snow-filled time.

“You always hope it’s more, but it puts a sizable dent in our coverage – to date anyway.”

The amounts for each county, city and village are:

Baraga County: $128,579.20

Houghton County: $256,829.05

Keweenaw County: $75,800.20

Ontonagon County: $151,163.30

Baraga: $9,091.54

Calumet: $7,030

Copper City: $1,135.88

Hancock: $25,423.88

Houghton: $37,322.67

Ontonagon: $11,119.43