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Hancock Appoints Lounibos to Council Seat, Approves New Labor Deal – City Council Report

The Hancock City Council returned to its full complement of seven members last night, as Mandy Lounibos was chosen to fill an empty seat.

Lounibos was nominated by councilor Lisa McKenzie…

She’s got a lot of work ethic, quiet, soft-spoken, no agenda. I think she would be a really good fit to get things done on city council.

Her appointment was approved on a 4-2 vote, with Mayor Paul LaBine and councilor Whitney Warstler voting against. She will serve the first half of the term that was declined by Michael Lancour. The remainder of the four-year term will be filled in the November, 2024 election.

At last night’s meeting, council members approved a new contract with city employees represented by the Teamsters Union.

The three-year agreement will provide 4 percent pay increases in each of the first two years, and a 3.8 percent increase in the third year. New employees will begin to accrue vacation time immediately. With the retirement plan currently underfunded, the city will also increase its contributions to the pension plan.

City Manager Mary Babcock indicated that progress is being made toward a new agreement with police officers, as well.

Council members voted unanimously not to waive costs associated with a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Teresa Kariniemi. 

Kariniemi wants images of all ballots cast in Houghton County in the November 8th election, along with tabulator tapes and poll books. City officials noted that accuracy tests comparing votes cast to tabulator tapes are done in advance of each election, and are open to the public. Law requires that ballots only be handled by designated officials, with at least one trained poll worker from the Democratic and Republican parties also in attendance. They estimated the cost to the city of copying both sides of 1,902 ballots at $8,667.30.

If Kariniemi wishes to proceed, she will need to cover that cost, with a 50 percent deposit paid in advance.

The council accepted an offer for a house the city owns at 1034 Second Street. The property needs work, and was listed at $75,000. A single offer of $60,000 was received. While not close to the asking prices, city officials note that it’s a cash offer, accepting the home in “as-is” condition, including some broken water pipes in the basement. The city will require that the home remain single-occupancy for at least the next seven years.

Council members accepted a $492,623 grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to assist in inspecting the water system for lead water lead pipes. They also voted to apply for several Spark Grants. If approved, one would provide improvements at the city campground. Another would pay for repairs and upgrades at the Laurn Grove Ice Rink. The third would help upgrade Porvoo Park.

And, the council purchased a used 2013 Ford Explorer from Keweenaw Automotive for $14,000. The vehicle is police interceptor equipped, and will be used as a back-up by the city police department.

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