So. Range snow loader needs fix at critical time

Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette Pictured here clearing snow from M-26, the front-end loader owned by the village of South Range is still operational and being used for snow removal. However, it has a serious transmission oil leak the village needs to somehow find a way to get repaired.

South Range’s front-end loader that it uses for snow removal has sprung a leak, street commissioner Bob Bonini reported at Thursday night’s village council meeting.

“We’re losing about a gallon of oil a day on it,” Bonini said.

The leak is originating between the engine and the torque converter.

The loader is no longer under warranty. The public works department has been trying to get a technician to look over it and give an estimate for the cost of repair, but there’s also the issue of what to use for snow removal while the loader is in the shop. One option is a rental unit from CAT.

“We can get a rental from them for $33 per hour, for a 40 hour week,” Bonini said.

Getting the loader delivered to the village would cost about $700, additionally.

The council asked if getting multiple quotes was possible, and Bonini said he would see if he could find anyone local.

On Jan. 24 at 6 p.m., the council will start its annual budget workshop process, reviewing changes to prepare the draft budget that will be presented in the regular meetings. The meeting is open to the public, but Village Council President Justin Marier said he has not seen anyone other than the council attend since he joined the group.

Budget workshops are when local municipalities decide how their revenue — mostly property taxes — will be spent for the year.

Marier encouraged people to come to the regular meeting, where the council plans to review the draft, rather than sit through the long workshop. It is currently scheduled for Feb. 7 at 6:30 p.m..

Village Clerk Jason Coffey admitted to the board that during the FEMA review process, he realized he had been making an error on the forms that qualify the village for reimbursement from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) for clearing the trunkline, M-26, that runs through South Range.

“We were still getting reimbursed, (but) we just could have got more money when we were doing it,” Coffey said.

Over the last three years, Coffey calculated that the village lost $2,154 because he was carrying a certain percentage in the calculation over from the previous year, when it should be updated each year.

Coffey mentioned the error to the MDOT office in Ishpeming, which agreed to reimburse the amount back to the village.

“They actually gave us the money that we neglected to claim the first time,” Coffey said.

Coffey apologized for the error, but Trustee Craig Paoli said he was being too hard on himself.

“How would you have known?” Trustee Therese Parolini said.

The council also adjusted parts of the village’s employee policy, adding a week of vacation for employees hired before July in their first year, setting a maximum of 40 hours of vacation time that can be carried over to a new year before it gets automatically paid out, and increasing allocated grieving time.

Employees grieving an immediate family member like a spouse, child, or parent, will get five days. An employee grieving a sibling, grandparent or in-laws will get three.

Marier pushed for the changes, and more, saying the village needs to offer competitive benefits to attract good employees in the future.