New county commission has first meeting

The Alger County Commission met for its first committee of the whole meeting on Monday, January 9 at the Alger County Courthouse, giving three new commissioners the chance to work in front of the public for the first time.

Dean Seaberg (R-District 2), Rick Capogrossa (R-District 1) and Kelly Livermore (R-District 4), worked with returning commissioners Mick Rondeau and Esley Mattson to address the 25-item agenda. With exception to the organizational meeting to set up subcommittees and confirm the annual meeting schedule, this was the first time the new board conducted county business.

“We’re catching up on a lot of things right now,” Livermore said. “Please have patience as we get settled in and learn about these issues.”

Alger County was one of four counties state wide to flip from a Democratic majority to a Republican majority in the 2022 elections. It also has one of the largest percentages of new county commissioners (60 percent) in the state, but Seaberg and Capogrossa have school board and planning commission experience prior to the county commission. Delays have also occurred in the transfer of power from the county, as official email addresses and office spaces took longer than expected for the new commissioners.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve dues of $9,000 to CUPPAD for 2023, approve a temporary maintenance supervisor while the current one is recovering from health issues and approved a three-year contract from Anderson, Tackman and Co. for the auditing of the county financials. Resolutions allowing for collection of Limestone and Grand Island Township taxes were added to the consent agenda for next Monday’s meeting.

Most discussion came regarding potential millage language for the animal shelter and airport. Listed as the same agenda item, the issue would be broken into two dierent millages on the ballot. Due to election requirements by state law, if the millage was to run in the May elections, the commission must approve at the meeting to apply for potential millage language from attorneys by the Jan. 9 meeting.

While the commission unanimously approved a millage to help raise funds for a new animal control, the board voted to table the millage about the airport. Public comment made at the meeting was strongly against going forward with a millage on the airport until further information could be received by the public about what improvements and operations would be conducted at Hanley Field.

Based on financials, the airport has enough funds to operate at its current status for six-seven years. According to Seaberg, this is enough to delay the millage vote until the survey is completed.

“We’re not saying no, just not right now. We can put this on the ballot in November and still get things done,” he said.

The commission also went into a closed session to address the eviction of the Humane Society of Alger County from the animal shelter building. The closed session is allowed by law to discuss legal strategy. Coming out of the session, the board voted unanimously to instruct civil attorney Roger Zappa to file the eviction paperwork with 93rd District Court. While notice was served in October and the non-profit removing all the animals and the majority of items from the property, a letter from the non-profit’s attorney stated that the county did not properly file the eviction forms.