Supervisor: COVID relief money will mostly go toward water and sewer

DAVISON TWP. — Supervisor Jim Slezak said he’s still waiting on the $1.9 million in COVID-19 relief money allocated to the township, but the guidelines about how to spend the money are becoming a little clearer.

The federal government is allowing the money to be used for specific projects and while most communities would like to see it spent on road improvements, Slezak said his administration is finding the two major applications for the funds are broadband Internet and water and sewer improvements.

“What they’ve give us so far…what we can spend it on is very vague,” said Slezak. “Investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure. With broadband it’s what we can sustain down the road. Can we afford the upkeep on broadband 10-20 years down the road?”

He said there may be a large sum of money the township could put toward setting up broadband in the community now, but there is no funding mechanism for what will be required to maintain and improve that network down the road.

Other uses for the money would allow the township to create jobs, but Slezak said, as with broadband, how do you continue to fund those positions once the money is gone?

With water and sewer, he said there are places in the township, specifically along Lapeer Road and Davison Road, where the money can be applied to make improvements.

Also, he said with business coming into the community and building along Irish and Lapeer roads, the township needs to keep up on capacity.

Slezak said the township still needs to get together with Waldorf & Sons Inc., who handle most of the township’s water and sewer needs to see where the federal dollars could be best used.

“What we’re going through right now is cost analysis to see where we can best use (the money),” said Slezak. “Are we going to do half up front or do 6-8 other projects, $100-$200,000 each and cleanup more areas and look to the future on the more major ones?”

The COVID relief funds must be utilized by 2024 or else they could be forfeited.

Slezak said it is exciting to have the money coming, but he said he wishes it could be put toward roads because that’s where the township needs the most help.

The township and the county are planning on a major improvement project at the intersection of Irish Road and Court Street to be completed by 2023. This project will entail improvements to not only the intersection, but to Irish Road from Lapeer Road to Court Street, to better accommodate the growing traffic numbers along that thoroughfare.

“Are we going to use the money? Yes, we’re going to use the money,” said Slezak. “Do we know when we’re going to get the money? We don’t know.”

While he and other leaders throughout Genesee County await their stimulus money and work to decipher the guidelines for spending it, Slezak said he only hopes the money will not come with conditions.

“I don’t want it to come with strings attached,” he said. “Like requiring us to make a 25 or 50 percent match.”