Big Rapids requests state funding for storm damage repairs that will be in the millions

BIG RAPIDS — Big Rapids city officials are looking to the state for assistance in funding repairs to the damage caused by recent flooding.

Steve Schroeder, emergency management liaison for the city, told the city commission during its meeting this week that Mecosta County has submitted a request to the governor’s office for Section 19 funding emergency relief for the damage around town.

“We haven’t heard anything back yet,” Schroeder said. “We haven’t had any word about the timing of that funding. So far as we know, it is still in the works. There was a statewide disaster in Gaylord which likely took previous over our situation.”

According to the Emergency Management Act 390 of 1976, “under extraordinary circumstances, upon the declaration of a state or emergency by the governor, the governor may authorize an expenditure from the disaster relief fund to provide assistance to counties and municipalities when federal assistance is not available.

“If the demands placed upon the funds of a county or municipality in coping with a particular disaster or emergency are unreasonably great, the governing body of the county or municipality may apply, by resolution of the local governing body, for a grant from the disaster and emergency contingency fund,” the act states.

The resolution should certify the emergency operations plan was implemented in a timely manner, the extent of damages sustained, and that local efforts to remedy the situation have been exhausted.

Under Section 19, a county or municipality with a population under 25,000 according to the most recent federal census may be eligible for up to $250,000.

Big Rapids Director of Public Works Heather Bowman told the board during a previous meeting that after assessing some of the damage, it is likely the costs of repairs will be in the millions.

The Baldwin Street culvert, the Pine Street culvert and the Michigan Avenue culvert were assessed by Fleis and VandenBrink, who provided cost estimates of over $70,000 for repairs.

The estimate for repairs to the culvert and the roadway on Hemlock Street was $2.2 million. Additional assessments are still to be done on the water main connected to the culvert along Hemlock Street, Bowman said.

City officials continue to investigate possible funding sources to cover the needed repairs.


In other business, the board approved the application for grant funding in the amount of $250,000 to the MDOT Category B program.

Grant coordinator for the city, Suzanne Wiggins, told the board that because of the situation with the change in the Census count, the city has become eligible for the MDOT grant dollars.

“These are small city and village funds that MDOT provides for municipalities that are planning to do utility and infrastructure work,” Higgins said. “They (MDOT) will help resurface and reconstruct the street after the critical infrastructure work is done. This money is only available for cities below 10,000 residents, so we are taking advantage of it while we can.”

The city has planned to redo the water main and sanitary sewer infrastructure on Bailey Drive, Dexter Avenue and Ridgeview Drive, which is in the CIP.

“This is a planned project, but this is an opportunity because the actual street construction that is needed can be offset by this MDOT grant,” Higgins said. “After the utility work, they will put in a new subbase, new aggregate and new asphalt in between the existing curb sides.

“The total cost of the roadwork is $606,825, which means from the city’s local street fund we will agree to match the $356,825 in total for the project,” she said.

City Manager Mark Gifford added that they have already dedicated funds for the project in next year’s budget and the grant, if awarded, will help the city’s budget.

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