County Board Set for First Budget Vote

Economic development tax, public hearing also on agenda

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.


  1. By suzu
    November 4, 2009 at 10:49 am | permalink

    Do you know if there has been any discussion about returning part of the Non-Union cuts back to them? That would be unfair based on the fact that many Union members only gave up what they did based on the cuts taken by Non-Union.

    If Guenzel (who is NON-UNION) attempts to explain that he is trying to be fair because the Non-Union took bigger cuts BUT over the last 10 – 15 years UNION members have either HAD NO rises or low raises (0.05% this year TO 2% ONCE) while NON-UNION MEMBERS CONTINUE TO GET THEIR AVERAGE OF 3% AND THE PAY FOR PERFORMANCE WHICH CAN BE 2% – 6% EVERY YEAR UNTIL 2010 WHICH WILL BE THE FIRST CUTS THEY HAVE TAKEN.

    The total comes out high this time but the Union has paid their amounts in past. I am sure that if someone totals out how much the our unions have lost in the last 10 – 15 years it would be far greater then what the NON-UNION is taken FOR THE FIRST TIME. In 2010 and 2011 the unions will be taking a 3% cut in wages including some medical co-pays. Most Non-Unions average 100,000 or more in salary and can certainly afford those amounts better then the average $30,000 made by Units A and B of 2733. Please readers and others go to the meeting tonight and make sure Guenzel does not try to run this through the Commissioners.

  2. By Todd
    November 4, 2009 at 4:02 pm | permalink

    Here’s the link to the comp changes already adopted by the Board of Commissioners. [link]

    Included in this for non-union is not only cancelling scheduled raises, but also a 3% cut for 2010 and an additional 2% cut in 2011. Pay for performance in cancelled through 2011. Meanwhile for the unions step increases and longevity stay intact.

    Also, although non-union salaries may be skewed high by Elected Officals and Department Heads, the majority of non-union staff make way under $100,000. These cuts suck for us too.