Washtenaw County commissioners are expected to take an initial vote on the 2010 and 2011 budget at their Wednesday meeting. Also on the agenda: A resolution to approve the economic development tax that was tabled at the board’s Oct. 21 meeting, and a public hearing on a new food safety program for restaurant workers.
The board and county administration have been working on the budget all year. Public meetings over the past several months have brought out residents and employees to lobby for funding, as the county looked for ways to address a projected $30 million deficit.
But there’s been little substantive public discussion among commissioners since county administrator Bob Guenzel presented his official recommendations at the Sept. 16 board meeting. Commentary from the public has also quieted down – an Oct. 22 public hearing devoted to the topic was sparsely attended, lasting just 10 minutes. That’s in part because two contentious issues had been settled by then: labor unions representing county employees had approved contract concessions, and the board had voted to restore some funding to local nonprofits that the county had previously proposed cutting.
The lack of discussion was noted by commissioner Kristin Judge at last Wednesday’s administrative briefing, when she asked about the Nov. 4 agenda: “Is this the meeting when we talk about the budget?”
In response, Guenzel said that because he and his staff hadn’t heard any concerns, they assumed that commissioners were satisfied with the budget recommendations. The board is expected to vote on the budget at Wednesday’s Ways & Means Committee portion of the meeting, then take a final vote at the regular board meeting on Nov. 18. [Link to .PDF file of 2010-2011 budget resolution]
One unresolved issue is the final budget for the sheriff’s department. At last week’s administrative briefing, Guenzel told commissioners that he and sheriff Jerry Clayton were still negotiating, and that they wouldn’t likely reach an agreement in time for the final budget approval. Guenzel plans to come to the board at a later date with a budget amendment that would address the results of their negotiations. The following note is included in the 2010-2011 budget resolution, which commissioners will be voting on at their Nov. 4 meeting:
The 2010 and 2011 budgets include the original budget assumptions of $1.2M in additional funding for jail expansion operating costs, in addition to the $1.5M previous reserve for jail overcrowding. The Board of Commissioners directs the Administrator to continue conversations with the Sheriff and to bring forth a recommendation on FTE and budget modifications for Board of Commissioners review and adoption.
Wednesday’s meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the County Administration Building, 220 N. Main St. The Ways & Means Committee – which includes the entire board – meets first, followed immediately by the regular board meeting. Though the agenda states that the regular board meeting begins at 6:45 p.m., it usually starts much later – times vary depending on what’s on the agenda. Public comment sessions are held at the beginning and end of each meeting, with no prior sign-up required.