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Sanilac Commissioners discuss Medical Care Facility; MSU-E Extension

By Arica Frisbey of Sanilac Broadcasting

(AREA) -Sanilac County is seeking Requests For Proposals for the possible construction of a new Animal Control facility.

The Board of Commission briefly discussed the issue at their meeting Tuesday, saying they will have a better feel for what the potential project might cost, should they choose to move forward with construction.

Commissioner Jon Block, Finance Chairman of the Board, said they have been given guidelines by the State on what is needed for a facility, but no estimates as to size and construction costs have been evaluated until the RFP’s are submitted.

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Currently, the County uses a building that sits on property owned by the City of Sandusky. There has been indication that the City may want to construct additional space for their equipment, which would in turn, require the removal of the current Animal Control building.

Commissioner Bill Sarkella says the building is inspected by the State and barely meets various requirements.

Sarkella also stated due to the age of the structure, the building is not worth repairing and would be too costly to bring up to date and meet State requirements. The Board expects to revisit the topic after the holidays.

The Sanilac County Medical Care Facility continues to struggle to maintain staff and finances and the Board of Commission has hired an auditing firm to get to the bottom of the issues.

Board Chairman Gary Heberling said COVID is the main culprit in declining numbers at the County-owned facility, both in the numbers of patients, maintaining staff and revenue.

Chairman Heberling said the Board expects to get the results of the audit sometime in February, but in the meantime, the facility needs around $1 million dollars to continue to meet obligations and remain open. Although the facility is capable of housing up to 104 residents, Heberling said they are down to just 54. Likewise there has been a large reduction of staff, due mainly to COVID concerns.

According to the Board Chairman, the facility is in need of up to $700,000 dollars to balance their books. Commissioners are looking into the possibility of using whatever funding they may decide from their American Recovery Plan Act allotment, if the situation meets the criteria for the ARPA dollars.

Heberling says the building has a value of around $3 million dollars and there is no intent or consideration being given to selling the facility to a private owner.

In other Board of Commission news, Chairman Heberling says the County needs to cut $150,000 next year to help balance their 2022 budget.

Three areas where the Board is working to make cuts is with Mental Health, Health Department and MSU-Extension. Chairman Heberling said Mental Health and the Health Department both have come up with plans to make their $50,000 dollar reductions work.

As for MSU-Extension, during a tele-conference call, Region Director Jerry Johnson caught the Board’s attention by saying maybe the 4-H program needed to be eliminated.

Heberling quickly stopped the conversation and scolded Johnson, saying the Board has never considered that. The only cuts could come in employee salaries.

After lengthy discussion, a cut from $85,000 dollars to $68,500 dollars was agreed to with details to be worked out.

It also means both the County 4-H Director and a secretary’s positions were saved from the cutting block.

For more stories like this visit Sanilac Broadcasting Websites here

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