Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (June 1, 2011): Budget issues again occupied commissioners’ focus at this month’s county board meeting. The board took an initial vote to set the price for a contract sheriff’s deputy and to approve funding for local nonprofits.
From left: Washtenaw County public health officer Dick Fleece, newly appointed public health medical director Monique Reeves, interim deputy county administrator Kelly Belknap, and county commissioner Wes Prater. Commissioners approved the hiring of Reeves at their June 1 meeting. (Photos by the writer.)
While the board’s previous meeting drew supporters from a range of human services groups, on Wednesday most public commenters spoke against funding of one specific nonprofit: Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan. Their arguments on financial and moral grounds were ultimately unpersuasive to commissioners, who voted unanimously to approve support for Planned Parenthood and several other agencies, totaling $1.015 million through fiscal year 2013, including $53,040 from the county for Planned Parenthood.
Two commissioners raised concerns that county funding for human services in general is inadequate, especially in light of proposed changes that could bump thousands of beneficiaries statewide off the welfare rolls later this year.
In a vote that also holds budget implications, the board’s move to set the price for a contract sheriff’s deputy was remarkable mainly for its lack of debate – historically it’s been a contentious issue. Commissioners gave initial approval without comment. The price set in 2012 for a police services unit (PSU) is $150,594 – unchanged from this year. That’s followed by 1% annual increases through 2015. The difference between the actual cost of a PSU and the amount charged – roughly $25,500, based on current figures – would be covered by the county. The item will return to the board’s July 6 meeting for a final vote.
Meanwhile, a 2006 lawsuit filed against the county over the amount it charged at that time for contract deputies remains unresolved. Judge Joseph Costello of the 38th Circuit Court Chief has ordered the county and Augusta and Ypsilanti townships into non-binding facilitation, in a meeting set for June 22.
During Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners also approved a raft of other items, including: (1) the hiring of Monique Reeves as new medical director; and (2) five drain projects in Ann Arbor that require bonds backed by the county’s full faith and credit. The board also voted to add five new working sessions to its calendar: on June 16, July 21, Aug. 18, Sept. 15 and Oct. 13. All are focused on the 2012-2013 budget.
Finally, at the end of its meeting the board went into executive session for about an hour to address three issues: (1) a collective bargaining strategy; (2) possible settlement of pending litigation; and (3) review of a legal opinion. [Full Story]