State Rep. Greg Markkanen’s legislation to ease a burdensome and unnecessary regulation that has prevented the Keweenaw County Road Commission from replacing its outdated maintenance facility will soon be before the governor for her possible signature.
Markkanen, of Hancock, said he has worked hard to find a solution that will help Keweenaw County after the governor vetoed similar legislation a year ago. His latest proposal to address the issue was approve by both the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.
“Burdensome regulation has led to dilapidated and outdated facilities and infrastructure in our community, and many others across Michigan,” Markkanen said. “A little more flexibility within our state laws would help road commissions do more to improve their communities.”
The Keweenaw County Road Commission has run into problems because of the 103-year-old building that currently serves as its maintenance facility. A 2016 building inspection uncovered numerous “red flags” with the building’s electrical, mechanical and HVAC systems as well as the structural integrity of the building itself.
“Because of the size of Keweenaw County’s old building, modern equipment doesn’t fit inside – meaning any repairs that need to be made, must be done outside,” Markkanen said. “Considering how harsh our winters are, you can imagine that would cause a lot of problems with their ability to operate effectively.”
Remodeling the facility to fit the road commission’s needs would cost an estimated $1.8 million. A new structure, with added office space, could be built for $1.5 million.
Markkanen said current state law, which dates back to 1909, requires county road commissions to limit the payments to 15 years or less when purchasing property for public use – a window too short and demanding for most rural communities. Other municipal units have more flexibility and can currently finance such payments over 30 years.
Markkanen’s proposal, House Bill 5314, would give road commissions throughout the state the same flexibility.
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