Traverse City commissioners will consider approving a loan to Traverse City Light & Power (TCLP) for utility fiber launch expansion, participating in a state program that could extend the risk premium to early city ​​stakeholders and approve a 2022-2023 agreement with the National Cherry Festival. These are just a few of the topics on the committee’s agenda for Tuesday, with the board meeting a day later than usual due to the Labor Day holiday.

Fiber loan
Commissioners will consider approving a five-year, $ 800,000 inter-fund loan from the city’s economic development fund to TCLP to extend the launch of the fiber project to the utility room. TCLP is being deployed “Phase 1” of its fiber Internet project throughout the community, which will expand service to approximately 2,200 customers from the downtown core, including the Central and Boardman neighborhoods, Eighth Street, Lake Street and Woodmere Avenue. TCLP, which is nearing the end of its cash reserves for phase one, is seeking additional funding to include more than 1,000 additional customers in the launch. These addresses would be south of Front Street, north of Fourteenth Street, east of Division Street and west of Cass Street. The expansion would mean that approximately a quarter of TCLP’s total customers would have fiber Internet access as part of the initial launch.

According to TCLP executive director Tim Arends, adding new customers at launch will allow the utility to pay back its deployment costs more quickly. TCLP estimates a 40% participation or enrollment rate from new customers, including business and residential customers. In a note to TCLP board members, Arends said the borrowing of funds would now allow contractors already working on the fiber project to continue, reducing remobilization costs. The expansion would also “use the existing data center set up for phase one, and not require another data center to acquire more customers,” he wrote. The targeted expansion area consists mainly of aerial utility works; this would allow construction to continue in the fall and winter, unlike underground construction, for which the city has restrictions between November and April.

City Manager Marty Colburn recommends approval of the interfund loan with an interest rate of 2.71% (0.71% is the prevailing US Treasury note rate, with an addition of 2% consistent with city ​​policy for special improvement districts, Colburn notes). “Providing this loan to Traverse City Light and Power from the city’s economic development fund will help TCLP advance this meaningful initiative, which will bring many improvements to the community, including: attracting new talent to the region through to providing connectivity for those who work from home, supporting (ing) educational efforts through virtual classrooms / e-learning, (and) creating jobs in the area, ”Colburn said in a note to the town commissioners.

The risk premium
Traverse City first responders to the city’s fire and police departments could receive up to $ 1,000 each as a risk bonus under a state program, provided city commissioners approve request for funds Tuesday.

Michigan’s first responder risk bonus program has set aside $ 100 million to distribute risk bonuses of up to $ 1,000 per eligible employee in communities across the state. Funding is available on a first come, first served basis. The town of Traverse City has 30 law enforcement staff and 25 fire department staff who may be eligible for funding.

According to Colburn, the city was originally ineligible for the program because it does not pay a risk premium through its collective agreements. The state program was put in place in the form of a risk premium reimbursement program. However, the Michigan Department of the Treasury has since changed the program to allow communities to request early payment of the risk allowance and then pay those amounts to employees. If Traverse City is approved for a fundraising amount, it will distribute the funds equally among eligible employees up to $ 1,000 each, Colburn says.

National Cherry Festival Accord
The commissioners will consider approving an agreement with the National Cherry Festival setting the conditions for the 2022 and 2023 festival events. City and festival leaders typically negotiate agreements on two-year cycles, with conditions set well in advance. the events themselves. In a note to the commissioners, city clerk Benjamin Marentette pointed out that – given the uncertainty of the pandemic, which resulted in the cancellation of this year’s festival – the agreement is subject to the actual issuance of permits by his office, which can be withheld or terminated for reasons of public health or safety if necessary.

Marentette says recent additions to the contract include the use of a central control with dedicated dispatchers for emergency purposes during the festival, the implementation of an event hazard vulnerability assessment prepared by Grand Traverse County Emergency Management, having more garbage collection vehicles to follow parades for faster cleanup. so that streets can be reopened faster, and have stricter barricade requirements and more barricade locations in place for public safety. The 2022 festival is scheduled for July 2-9, while the 2023 event is scheduled for July 1-8. Marentette notes that he and the general manager of the National Cherry Festival, Kat Paye, “have both had an in-depth discussion that the festival could be very different in the years to come.

Also at the Tuesday meeting …
Commissioners will consider approving two election-related items, including the purchase of a high-speed tabulator for compiling absentee ballots on Election Day. About half of the machine’s cost of nearly $ 37,000 will be covered by the state through funds distributed from the CARES Act, with the remaining half coming from the city’s general fund. “The huge increase in the number of voters choosing to vote by mail ballot” necessitates the purchase of a machine, says Colburn. Marentette adds that the machine can process ballots at five times the speed of the city’s existing equipment. “Buying this tabulator will help the city report results (a) much faster (in a way),” according to Marentette. “Often in higher volume elections in particular, we have to recalculate at least once the value of absentee ballots for an entire constituency, in order to balance and account for all ballots ( due to traffic jams, worker errors, etc.). ” Without the high-capacity machine, Marentette says it might be “nearly impossible for (the city) to report results in a timely manner” this year. According to Michigan law, the final compilation of postal ballots can only take place on election day.

Marentette is also asking that commissioners adopt a policy on Tuesday that states committee meetings will not take place the night before an election unless the city manager or three commissioners request it. Marentette says a typical election day for her team is at least 8 p.m. Holding committee meetings on the eve of an election – a regular occurrence in recent years – puts a strain on staff, Marentette said, at a time “when the ability to focus is paramount to ensuring that we are doing it right on such an important task. . “

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