Schoolcraft receives American Rescue Plan Act funds

By Rob Peterson

Schoolcraft Village is scheduled to receive $162,341 as part of the American Rescue Plan Act approved in March. The village will receive half the money in 2021 and the rest next year. The funds may be used on COVID-related needs or infrastructure.

In preliminary discussions, the village is considering improvements to the water system, which may include replacement of some lead-based pipes and purchase of property for a new wellhouse.

“We have until 2026 to spend the money, so we want to take the time to make the right decision,” said Village Manager Cheri Lutz. “Staff will come up with recommendations and present them to the Council.”

At its July meeting, Lutz reported staff is spending extra administrative time on the ordinance violations that the Council wants enforced, especially fences installed without permits. Some residents are complying with the requirements, but others are being referred to the court system.

The manager requested the council appoint a hearing officer to deal with dangerous buildings. There are apparently two structures that qualify, a distinction which allows the village to take action to protect the safety of village residents.

Larry Piper of Clark Logic has offered to serve in the position. The Council agreed with the appointment. Lutz indicated that she has only used the powers of declaring a building as dangerous once in the last 10 years.

The Council reviewed the South County Fire Authority audit, which again came back with the same concern as before: Financial statements are being prepared by the same people who are conducting the audit. According to the audit, it would be preferable to have an independent financial professional prepare the financial statements.

Council member Kathy Mastenbrook said she is “very disappointed in the (village) finance director and concerned that the board has taken no action on this.”

The council did not accept the report, and a letter was sent to the authority explaining the reason. Since the financial reports were accepted by a majority of the municipalities in the authority, it made no changes to the policy.

The Planning Commission will be reviewing a site plan for 300 Cass Street, a former public school being developed by Clark Logic for two non-profit educational organizations.

The developer has requested that the Village allow on-street parking on Cedar Street, which is contrary to the village’s current ordinance. Lutz recommended a compromise on the regulations, “because we need businesses here.”

The change in the parking ordinance will allow churches and schools to park in the right-of-way, which will allow the development at 300 Cass Street to move forward.

At the August meeting, village staff reported that they are testing a “point and pay” online system so that residents can pay water bills. When it is ready to use, the village will send information along with the mailed water bills.

The village manager mentioned at both the July and August meetings that the village needs one more member for the Planning Commission and two or three more for the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Residents of the village who are interested in joining either board are encouraged to contact Lutz.

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