Laurium Village Council does the numbers

Laurium village hall and police station among other vil- lage owned buildings are being considered for energy related updates to manage costs. The village Finance Committee reported on the community’s financial con- ditions this week. Jon Jaehnig / Daily Mining Gazette

LAURIUM – The Laurium Village Council held its regular September meeting on Thursday. The meeting followed the Finance Committee’s reviewing of bills, which the council voted unanimously to pay. The bills exceeded the council’s earlier expectations with Finance Committee member Jeff Erickson calling the review “a big eye opener.” 

Erickson opened his committee report by quipping, “Talking about money: we don’t have any.” On a more serious note, Erickson later explained that national economic conditions have impacted the council’s spending, saying, “We set this year’s budget back in February when gas was $2.50 per gallon. Now we’re looking at $6 per gallon for diesel.” 

The council was already in talks with its various departments on the village’s ongoing audit and how to best allocate two rounds of $98,000 each from the American Rescue Plan Act, an ongoing discussion from last month’s council meeting. These talks will now include amending the budget to account for price changes. 

“One of the benefits to doing that right now is half of the fiscal year is over so we’ll have some kind of an indication of where we stand and it’ll be easier to project what we can and can’t do in the months ahead,” said village clerk Patricia Golus. 

Regarding the ARPA money, the council voted to start off by using the money to pay back the village water fund, which had been borrowed from to supplement the general fund last year. That leaves some $70,000 remaining to be allocated.  

Golus advocated for using some of the remaining money to pay off a $30,000 dump truck that the village purchased the year before. Erickson advocated that, with the dump truck already being paid for through an ongoing voter-approved tax millage, ARPA funds should be put directly toward the general fund and village budget. 

Other partial solutions are also forthcoming. Erickson reported that UPPCO is doing an inspection of the lighting systems in a number of village-owned buildings including the village hall and police station, the fire hall, and Department of Public Works buildings. 

“There are incentives available to convert from fluorescents over to LEDs,” said Erickson. “It’s going to be worth it just from the cost of operating.” 

One other potential income source presented itself during a time for public comment near the end of the meeting. Alicia Roundtree, who represents an “adult use cannabis dispensary” addressed the council suggesting that they opt-in to allow the sale of recreational marijuana products within the village, which would be a significant source of tax revenue. 

Council members acknowledged that resident opinions on recreational marijuana are “roughly evenly split,” per a question on a recent community opinion poll which is still being reviewed. In the end, the council tabled the discussion in large part because the council has one vacant seat and no current village manager. 

“That will also give us time to do additional research … make ourselves a little more aware of what the village would be getting into,” said Village President John Sullivan. 


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