BALDWIN -- The Lake County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution authorizing the winter tax rate of .5 mills for ambulance service at its meeting Wednesday, Sept. 9.

"Every year, twice a year, we approve an L4029, which determines what the millage rate will be," Lake County administrator Tobi Lake said.

It is done in the spring for the July levy, which is for the general fund and then again in the fall to determine the millage rate for the special assessments such as road patrol, ambulance, 911 and Commission on Aging, he said.

"This is where you determine what the millage rate will be for those special assessments," Lake said. "Generally it would be for the total amount, but this year some of those have had some excess, so we've rolled back the millage rate for road patrol, 911 and COA."

In August, voters approved a renewal of the ambulance millage, which dropped the ceiling from 1 mill to .75 mills, meaning that .75 mills is the most that can be levied. That will bring in around $450,000 for ambulance service, Lake said.

"Recently ambulance and some others have had some excess, so we are recommending a roll back to .5 mills for this year's levy," he said.

The motion carried unanimously.

In other action, the BOC approved a motion to modify the nonunion personnel policy to allow the county administrator to authorize the hiring of temporary employees and the paying of additional compensation due to prolonged staffing shortages and overtime.

"Essentially, this will change three areas of the personnel manual," Lake said.

Instead of going through finance and personnel to hire a temporary employee or to grant overtime pay to an employee, department heads will come to the administrator for authorization.

Also, a new section will be added that will allow the administrator to authorize additional compensation for employees that are working during a prolonged staffing shortage due to circumstances beyond the county's control, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

The motion carried unanimously.

In other business, the county has received grants through a state emergency coronavirus relief grant program. According to Lake, the prosecutors' office has received a grant of $15,000, the sheriff's department has received a grant of $87,000, and the courts have received a grant of $22,745.

"With these grants, the departments were able to claim expenses from the past as well as proposed expenses going forward," Lake said. "This is an additional $125,000 for the county."

Possible uses for the funds include computer equipment for the courts, a digital sign to help get information out to the public and a new LiveScan fingerprint machine at the sheriff's department, Lake said.

"Another fingerprint machine is around a $37,000 piece of equipment," Lake said. "Right now, people have to go inside the jail to be fingerprinted. By getting this grant and getting an additional machine out front, people won't have to do that anymore."

Lake County Clerk/Register of Deeds Patti Pacola asked the BOC to help get the word out to their constituents to complete the 2020 Census.

"The last time I looked, the county response rate was only 25.6%," Pacola said. "The Census will impact many areas of our county, such as Pell grant awards, medical assistance programs, Head Start, Section 8 housing assistance, school meal programs, emergency food assistance, winterization assistance programs, grants for road funding, and hunter and safety programs. State and federal funding can be as much as $1,800 per resident per year.

"Anything you can do to get the word out will be helpful," she added. "The deadline to complete the Census is Sept. 30."

Census takers will continue to be at Houseman's Food Center throughout the month to assist residents with completing the questionnaire.

Dates and times:

• Sept. 12 -- 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.

• Sept. 24 -- 2:30 to 6:30 p.m.

• Sept. 18 -- 2:30 to 6:30 p.m.

• Sept. 26 -- 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.

• Sept. 27 -- 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.

• Sept. 30 -- 2:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Times and dates may also be found at facebook.com/lakecountymichigan.