CHEBOYGAN COUNTY — The Cheboygan County Board of Commissioners approved two different grant applications for Straits Regional Ride on Aug. 27, allowing for the replacement of two vehicles in their fleet.
“We have a couple contracts for a bus purchase and a project authorization for a Capital Formula Grant to purchase one vehicle, a van,” said Cheboygan County Administrator Jeff Lawson.
The two grants were a part of contracts with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the first being to replace a van used by the busing service, with a total cost of $39,150. Of those funds, $31,320 will be received from federal grant dollars and $7,830 will be from grant funding from the State of Michigan. There are no local match dollars required to obtain this vehicle.
It was Lawson’s recommendation that the county commissioners approve the capital formula grant and authorize Cheboygan County Board of Commissioners Chair John Wallace to sign the document, as well as approve any necessary budget adjustments.
The second contract with MDOT was for the replacement of one of the Straits Regional Ride revenue vehicles, one of the buses, which is up to 30 feet in length.
“The second contract is to purchase a vehicle with 100 percent state funding of $73,063,” said Lawson.
The vehicle this new bus will be replacing has reached its useful life in terms of mileage and the number of years it has been in service. The contract with MDOT awards Straits Regional Ride with one additional bus to use to transport its passengers.
It was also the recommendation of Lawson to have the commissioners approve this grant and authorize any budget adjustments related to the funding through the state.
Lawson said, in regards to these two grants, the State of Michigan has identified that bus purchases that are going to be made after Sept. 1 of this year will be delayed for up to two years, due to retooling out of a plant.
“They have given us authorization to order before the contracts are signed,” said Lawson. “But there is a caveat from the state that if, for some reason, between today and the signing of the contracts, which is estimated somewhere in the middle of September, the funding did not go through for whatever reason, that we would be stuck with the funding of it.”
Something like this has not happened to the county before, where they have not received grant funding for things such as buses. However, just in case, Lawson was looking for the authorization to purchase the vehicle and get it ordered prior to the Sept. 1 deadline, so the county wasn’t waiting two years for their new bus.
The county commissioners voted unanimously to allow Lawson to order the bus ahead of the deadline, to ensure the busing service would get its new vehicle.
Cheboygan County Board of Commissioners Vice-Chair Rich Sangster said the county has had a lot of inquiries and input from people who use the busing service regarding the status of the buses and the condition the vehicles are in.
Sangster had spoken to Lawson regarding the ordering of the buses and Sangster felt strongly they should give the authorization to order the vehicle ahead of the deadline, to avoid the extended delay.