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Houghton Council recap

The last Houghton City Council meeting of the year covered a wide swath of topics, from public comment urging the body to stay firm in opposing the short-term rental legislation being deliberated in the state Senate to a renewal of the exemption for health care plans for city employees.

The meeting began with a check presented to Police Chief John Donnelly for the Pigs n’ Heat fund from Michigan Tech’s Sigma Pi fraternity. Roughly $1,400 was raised through the organization’s haunted house.

The efforts of Michigan Tech students were recognized later on as well, during new business. The Houghton Fire Department is getting three new members from the ranks of the university. Councilor and department member Robert Megowan says the arrangement has worked well in the past.

Were very lucky with some of the students that we’ve had. They’ve stayed here for five, six years, gotten their master’s and stuff like that. Then they go on, and once they’ve been certified they can go to Wisconsin or Michigan and be on a department, so it furthers them also in their future.

During Manager Eric Waara’s administrative report he said that the Michigan Department of Transportation is expected to wrap construction work in the area this week. Beginning yesterday, both lanes of US-41 North were open to traffic across the Portage Lake Lift Bridge. That will pave the way soon to lower the center portion of the span to allow for snowmobile traffic.

The city’s audit will be delayed. It has applied for an extension with the State of Michigan, which was granted. It is switching preparers and extra time is needed to put historical financial data into the new firm’s computer program. Waara says he expects the audit to be complete by mid-January.

The council approved a resolution to exempt municipal employees for contributions to the city’s public health plan. That is an annual requirement, and one of three options for localities to remain in compliance with Public Act 152 passed in 2011.

The body approved checks of $24,546 and $27,838 for sewer and water system improvements. The bills pertained to work completed on College Avenue in recent months.

The city abandoned rights to utilities and an easement for maintaining them near Coles Creek. The site was originally proposed to be a neighborhood of single-family residences. It will instead be a campground, with significantly different needs.

Lastly, Mayor Robert Backon made appointments for 2022 to fill holes on various commissions and subcommittees created by the departure of Dan Salo earlier this year.

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