A new public safety collaboration – the Eastern Washtenaw Safety Alliance – was announced on July 8, bringing together the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office, Eastern Michigan University, and the city of Ypsilanti to increase security efforts on the eastern side of the county. The alliance will work on several initiatives, including increased police officers, expanded patrols, installing new streetlights and shared jurisdictional authority, according to a press release. EMU is hiring 10 additional police officers this year, which will increase its police staff to 43 deputized officers by the fall. The city of Ypsilanti has hired eight new police officers since last fall, bringing the city’s total to 29. [Source] [Alliance FAQ] [Street light FAQ] [List of ...
Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (June 4, 2014): The board’s meeting featured a discussion of how to allocate a budget surplus – prompted by recommendations from the five countywide “electeds.” The elected officials hope to partner with the county board as it sets priorities for the $3.9 million surplus from 2013. The county’s fiscal year is the same as the calendar year.
The board, comprised of elected officials representing nine districts, is responsible for budget decisions. The five positions that are elected by voters countywide – the sheriff, prosecuting attorney, treasurer, clerk/register of deeds and water resources commissioner – head up county departments but must have their budgets approved by the board.
The board is developing a process that will guide budget decisions regarding how to manage budget surpluses or shortfalls, including $3.9 million surplus from 2013 and about $600,000 in higher-than-budgeted property tax revenues in 2014. The county administrator, Verna McDaniel, is recommending that the $3.9 million be kept as general fund reserves. Some county commissioners would rather spend at least a portion of the surplus.
The recommendation from the electeds is to allocate a to-be-determined percentage of any surplus to these five areas: (1) unfunded liabilities for the pension fund; (2) unfunded liabilities for the retiree health care fund; (3) the county’s housing fund, which was eliminated in 2012; (4) the delinquent tax fund reserves, specifically for internal advances on county projects to save bonding costs; and (5) the capital reserve fund or unearmarked reserve fund.
Commissioners made no decision on these recommendations, other than to thank the electeds for their input.
In other budget-related action, the board gave final approval to put a 10-year parks & recreation millage renewal on the Nov. 4, 2014 ballot. Commissioners also set public hearings for two millages that are levied annually in December without voter approval – for support of indigent veterans and their families; and to fund economic development and agricultural activities. Those hearings, to solicit public input, will be held at the board’s July 9 meeting.
The board also gave final approval to set the county’s general operating millage rate at 4.5493 mills – unchanged from the current rate. This is an annual process that includes a public hearing, which was also held on June 4. One person spoke.
A final vote was also taken to create a new committee that will explore funding options for road repair. This follows the board’s rejection – at its meeting on May 21, 2014 – of a proposal to levy a countywide tax for this purpose. No committee members have been appointed yet.
The board was also briefed on work by the community corrections unit, which is part of the sheriff’s department. It provides services that include jail diversion and alternative sentencing options to the Washtenaw County Trial Court, pre-trial services, drug testing, and electronic monitoring. The use of electronic monitoring has increased dramatically, from an average number of cases between 25-30 at any given time in FY 2012-2013, to between 85-115 cases in FY 2013-14.
During public commentary, commissioners heard from David Schonberger, an Ann Arbor resident who thanked the board for passing a resolution last month to oppose oil exploration and drilling in the county. He urged them to use it as a starting point for more action. Specifically, he advocated that the board fund a robust public education campaign and establish an advisory committee to work with Scio Township and the city of Ann Arbor on this issue.
Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (April 16, 2014): Most local governments in Washtenaw County will see increases in tax revenue this year, according to the 2014 equalization report that county commissioners approved on April 16.
The report was presented by Raman Patel, the county’s long-time equalization director. “Washtenaw County is showing improvements in the market,” he told commissioners. “We are slowly regaining our county’s equalized base. It appears that the worst part of the decline in market value is behind us.”
For 2014, taxable value in the county increased 2.02% to $14.18 billion. That’s a greater increase than the 1.68% climb in 2013, and an improvement over declines seen in recent years. Patel cautioned that several factors are impacting revenue for local governments, including the phase-out of personal property taxes, a variety of exemptions, and tax capture from entities like downtown development authorities.
More of the tax burden is also being shifted to residential property owners, he noted, compared to other categories, like commercial property. The category of residential property accounts for 67.34% of total property value in the county. Five years ago, in 2009, it was 63%.
In other action on April 16, commissioners gave initial approval to distribute proceeds from a countywide tax on hotels and other accommodations. For 2013, $472,846 was available for distribution. If the resolution is given final approval, the county will keep 10% ($47,285) to pay for enforcement of the accommodation ordinance. The remainder will be divided between the Ann Arbor Convention & Visitors Bureau ($319,171) and the Ypsilanti Convention & Visitors Bureau ($106,390).
During public commentary, Mary Kerr, president of the Ann Arbor Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Jason Morgan, director of government relations for Washtenaw Community College, highlighted the union training programs that will be coming to the area this summer. The CVBs have been instrumental in recruiting these kinds of events to Washtenaw County.
Commissioners also gave initial approval to the annual Urban County action plan, which outlines proposed projects funded by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. The Urban County is a consortium of Washtenaw County and 18 local municipalities that receive federal funding for low-income neighborhoods. Members include the cities of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Saline, and 15 townships.
Final authorization was given to a two-year pricing proposal – for 2016 and 2017 – to provide police services to local municipalities through contracts with the county sheriff’s office. And commissioners gave final approval to a new brownfield redevelopment plan for the Thompson Block in Ypsilanti’s Depot Town.
In other action, the board passed a resolution declaring April 13-19 as National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week in Washtenaw County. They also honored Dr. Eugene Glysson, who had served on the county’s board of public works (BPW) since 1986, and was its chair since 1996. He died on April 2.
Several issues were raised during public commentary, including concerns about emergency sirens installed by a pasture in Scio Township. The owner told commissioners that the sirens spook his horses, causing a dangerous situation if anyone is riding them or standing nearby. Other topics discussed by the public included the creation of a new group to help end homelessness, called Our 2020 Vision, and efforts by University of Michigan students to reduce the use of plastic bags by imposing a per-bag usage fee. They’re garnering support in part through a MoveOn.org petition.
A two-year pricing proposal for contracts to provide police services to local municipalities has received final authorization from the Washtenaw County board of commissioners at its April 16 meeting.
For 2016 and 2017, the police services unit (PSU) price will be $156,709 and $158,276, respectively. An initial vote had been taken on April 2, 2014.
By way of background, on July 6, 2011, commissioners had authorized the price that municipalities would pay for a contract sheriff’s deputy through 2015. The price in 2012 – $150,594 per “police services unit” – was unchanged from 2011, but has been rising in subsequent years by about 1% annually. The complex, politically-charged process of arriving at those figures in 2011 involved more than a year of discussion …
Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (April 2, 2014): Responding to several homeless residents who spoke during public commentary, commissioners spent about 90 minutes on April 2 discussing how to address short-term and long-term needs of the homeless.
The board ultimately voted to direct county administrator Verna McDaniel to work with community partners to address immediate needs of the homeless. In general, McDaniel has budgetary discretion to spend up to $50,000 on professional services contracts, and up to $100,000 for any proposed goods, services, new construction or renovation. Later in the week, she allocated $35,000 to the Delonis Center – which is run by the nonprofit Shelter Association of Washtenaw County – to keep its nighttime warming center open through April 30. The warming center had originally been slated to close for the season on April 6.
The resolution also directed the administration to develop a plan by May 7 for updating the county’s Blueprint to End Homelessness, which was adopted in 2004 but appears to be dormant. The process of updating that plan is to be completed by Oct. 1, 2014.
Conan Smith (D-District 9) had initially suggested allocating $40,000 to the shelter to keep the warming center open another month. Other commissioners had concerns about throwing money at the shelter without any input from shelter staff, and without knowing specifically how the money would be used. Because the item hadn’t been included on the agenda, representatives from the shelter staff didn’t attend the meeting.
Some commissioners thought there should be a strategic plan in place before any additional funding is given – and they seemed to assume that such a plan doesn’t already exist. Mary Jo Callan, director of the county’s office of community & economic development, noted that the city of Ann Arbor and several other entities are working on this issue, in partnership with the Shelter Association. The board had received a briefing from the association’s executive director, Ellen Schulmeister, at their Feb. 6, 2014 working session.
The vote on the resolution was 6-2, over dissent from Republicans Dan Smith (District 2) and Alicia Ping (District 3), who both objected to the process. Rolland Sizemore Jr. (D-District 5) was absent.
Dan Smith called it “completely and entirely inappropriate” to be making policy and budgetary decisions on the fly, in response to a few people who showed up to speak during public commentary. He supported updating the Blueprint to End Homelessness, but thought it was a discussion that should take place at a working session before taking action at a regular board meeting. Yousef Rabhi (D-District 8) responded by saying that commissioners are elected to work for the people. When people come to the board, it’s important to address their concerns in a serious manner, he said.
Because of the length of the meeting, some men who were staying at the shelter missed the 9:30 p.m. curfew. Typically, anyone showing up after that time isn’t allowed inside. Greg Dill, the county’s director of infrastructure management, contacted the shelter staff and made arrangements for the men to be accommodated.
In other action, commissioners gave initial approval to a two-year pricing proposal – for 2016 and 2017 – to provide police services to local municipalities through contracts with the county sheriff’s office. Some commissioners expressed concern about the financial sustainability of this approach to funding police services, and cited the need for new revenue sources for public safety. Sheriff Jerry Clayton was on hand to present the pricing proposal, and supported suggestions to seek a new funding source. As he’s done in the past, Clayton characterized the issue of public safety as one that encompasses economic development, human services and other aspects of the community.
Commissioners also gave initial approval to a new brownfield redevelopment plan for the Thompson Block in Ypsilanti’s Depot Town, and took final action to add autism coverage to the health care benefits for employees. They postponed action on a resolution related to the county road commission until May 7, following an April 17 working session that will focus on that issue. The board also was briefed on the 2013 audit and comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR), and received an award for financial reporting from the national Government Finance Officers Association.
During communications, Felicia Brabec (D-District 4) reported that the review of applications is underway for the current cycle of coordinated funding, a partnership to fund social service agencies that involves the county, city of Ann Arbor, and several other entities. For this cycle, 105 applications were received, representing $8.7 million in requests. The amount of available funding this year from all partners is $4.4 million. “So it’s a difficult, difficult process,” she said. Funding recommendations will be brought to the board in May.
On April 2, the board also honored five local businesses and institutions with “healthy workplace” awards, and recognized the Ann Arbor Community Center for 91 years of service.
A two-year pricing proposal for contracts to provide police services to local municipalities has received initial authorization from the Washtenaw County board of commissioners at its April 2, 2014 meeting. A final vote is expected on April 16.
On July 6, 2011, commissioners had authorized the price that municipalities would pay for a contract sheriff’s deputy through 2015. The price in 2012 – $150,594 per “police services unit” – was unchanged from 2011, but has been rising in subsequent years by about 1% annually. The complex, politically-charged process of arriving at those figures in 2011 involved more than a year of discussion between the sheriff’s office, other county officials and leaders of local municipalities that contract for these services.
The board’s …
A $160,000 weapons screening contract with the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office has been approved for the 15th District Court in Ann Arbor. City council approval came at its March 17, 2014 meeting.
At the same meeting, the council was introduced to the new 15th District Court administrator, Shryl Samborn.
The 15th District Court is housed at Ann Arbor’s Justice Center – the police/courts facility immediately adjoining the Larcom city hall building at the northeast corner of Huron and Fifth. Aside from salaries for judges, which are reimbursed by the state of Michigan, funding for the court is the responsibility of the city of Ann Arbor.
The total amount of the weapons screening contract reflects an amount of $26.24 per hour per court security officer. …
Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (Nov. 20, 2013): After a final debate, commissioners adopted the 2014-2017 general fund budget, an unprecedented long-term document that some commissioners believe will improve strategic investments and organizational stability.
At their Nov. 20 meeting, commissioners made several amendments, but did not substantively change the originally proposed budget submitted by county administrator Verna McDaniel in early October. Initial approval had been given during a six-hour meeting on Nov. 6, 2013. The Nov. 20 meeting lasted about two-and-a-half hours.
The vote was 7-1, with dissent from Ronnie Peterson (D-District 6) – though he cited three elements of the budget that he wanted to support: the community impact statements, outside agency funding, and position modifications. Rolland Sizemore Jr. (D-District 5) was absent. Dan Smith (R-District 2), who had dissented in the initial vote on Nov. 6, stated that he still had several concerns with the budget, but he voted for it because the budget supported many important activities throughout the county. He noted that although it spanned four years, the board is required by state law to approve the budget each year, so “technically it’s a one-year budget.”
Several new amendments were made during deliberations on Nov. 20. An amendment proposed by Conan Smith (D-District 9) directs the administration to conduct a study of county staff “to assess the capabilities of the organization to meet the community outcomes and processes.” Another amendment directs the administration to conduct a “citizens experience study” that would help inform board priorities.
Alicia Ping (R-District 3) proposed an amendment to shift $500,000 from the facilities, operations & maintenance fund to a contingency fund for parking. That contingency fund will serve as a placeholder as the county renegotiates parking contracts with the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. The current contract, signed in 2004, runs through 2023.
As he has on previous occasions, Peterson argued against the four-year budget approach, preferring to maintain the current two-year budget process. He said that if he’s re-elected in 2014, he’ll fight to overturn the four-year budget and institute a one- or two-year budget instead. The board’s leadership – including Rabhi and Felicia Brabec (D-District 4), chair of the board’s ways & means committee – believe a four-year budget will improve long-term planning and stability, and could be transformational to the way that the county does business.
The board leadership also wants the board to be engaged in a continual process of monitoring the outcomes related to budget investments. To that end, on Nov. 20 the board also voted to adopt a set of “community outcomes” to guide that investment, as well as a framework for developing future budgets that reflect those desired outcomes. [.pdf of community outcomes resolution] Those outcomes are more detailed “impact statements” tied to budget priorities that the board approved on July 24, 2013.
A major discussion point at the Nov. 6 meeting – about the impact of budget cuts on the sheriff’s office – received much less attention on Nov. 20. However, after the meeting Rabhi told The Chronicle that discussions are underway with the sheriff, and that there will be a budget amendment brought forward soon that will address some of the concerns that have been raised by sheriff Jerry Clayton.
In addition to the budget, the board handled two items related to workforce development: (1) giving initial approval to accept $1,154,683 in funding from the Partnership Accountability Training Hope (PATH) program, which is part of Michigan’s welfare system; and (2) approving amended bylaws for the county’s workforce development board.
During public commentary, Christina Lirones advocated for the board to opt out of Pittsfield Township’s State Street corridor improvement authority (CIA). On Nov. 6, commissioners had voted to approve a tax-sharing agreement with Pittsfield Township and the CIA, which means that a portion of county taxes will be used to help fund the project. Lirones noted that there’s still time for the board to change its mind – as the board has one more meeting, on Dec. 4,
The board made one appointment on Nov. 20, adding York Township supervisor John Stanowski to an exploratory subcommittee for the future of the Washtenaw County road commission. Rabhi also indicated that nominations to other volunteer boards, committees and commissions would be brought forward for a board vote on Dec. 4. Though the deadline for submitting applications had passed, the deadlines have been extended until Dec. 1 for openings on three groups: the southeast Michigan’s Regional Transit Authority (RTA); the Washtenaw County historic district commission; and the Washtenaw County food policy council. More information about these positions is posted on the county’s website.
At the end of the meeting, Rabhi reminded commissioners that a holiday reception will be held prior to the board’s next meeting on Dec. 4, in the lobby of the county administration building at 220 N. Main from 4-6 p.m.
The Washtenaw County board of commissioners has adopted the 2014-2017 general fund budget, an unprecedented long-term document that some commissioners believe will improve strategic investments and organizational stability. At their Nov. 20, 2013 meeting, commissioners made several amendments, but did not substantively change the originally proposed budget submitted by county administrator Verna McDaniel. Initial approval had been given at a six-hour meeting on Nov. 6, 2013. The Nov. 20 meeting lasted about two-and-a-half hours.
The $103,005,127 budget for 2014 – which represents a slight decrease from the 2013 expenditures of $103,218,903 – includes putting a net total of 8.47 full-time-equivalent jobs on “hold vacant” status, as well as the net reduction of a 0.3 FTE position. The recommended budgets for …
Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (Nov. 6, 2013): At another nearly six-hour meeting, county commissioners handled a full agenda with several major action items, including the 2014-2017 budget.
Following about three hours of debate and some minor amendments, commissioners gave initial approval to the proposed four-year general fund budget, for the years 2014-2017. The 7-2 vote came over the dissent of Dan Smith (R-District 2) and Ronnie Peterson (D-District 6), who cited concerns over a budget cycle extending for four years rather than two.
Much of the budget discussion focused on the sheriff’s operations. No layoffs are proposed, but 8.47 FTE positions would be kept unfilled. Most of those are in the sheriff’s office, which has a targeted budget reduction of $1.34 million. Sheriff Jerry Clayton, an elected official, attended the Nov. 6 meeting and addressed the board, telling commissioners that his office can’t continue to absorb budget cuts without affecting services. “For me not to tell you what I believe the impact on public safety is, if you make those cuts, would be negligent in my responsibility as the county sheriff.”
Board chair Yousef Rabhi (D-District 8) countered that every department head could make arguments against budget cuts. Noting that more revenues are needed, Rabhi said he hoped commissioners would support putting a countywide public safety millage on the ballot.
During public commentary after the budget debate, county prosecuting attorney Brian Mackie told commissioners that they had a difficult job, but that they were making it harder than it needed to be. He suggested looking for guidance in the state constitution, and relying on the experience of county administrator Verna McDaniel. Mackie also questioned whether commissioners were truly committed to public safety as a priority. He praised Clayton, noting that the sheriff is a respected figure with a national reputation. “He might know more about safety and criminal justice than you do,” Mackie said.
The budget must be given final approval by the end of the year, and only two more board meetings scheduled: On Nov. 20 and Dec. 4. The board will also hold a second public hearing on the budget on Nov. 20.
Several other agenda items related directly or indirectly to the county’s budget. On a 7-1 vote, the board gave final approval to an increase in the levy of the economic development and agricultural tax, known as Act 88 of 1913. The increase to the Act 88 millage is from 0.06 mills to 0.07 mills. Dan Smith (R-District 2) dissented and Rolland Sizemore Jr. (D-District 5) had left the meeting by the time the vote occurred, just after midnight. Smith questioned the constitutionality of the county levying this tax, as well as the legality of how the revenues are spent.
During public commentary, the board also heard from two people who objected to the tax levy, including Bill McMaster of Taxpayers United. McMaster, who helped lead the statewide campaign that resulted in passage of the Headlee Amendment in 1978, noted during public commentary that there’s a provision in the law allowing for legal action if taxes are raised without voter approval. It’s an action “which we will pursue,” he said.
The board also unanimously approved a tax-sharing agreement to allow a portion of county taxes to be captured by Pittsfield Township’s State Street corridor improvement authority (CIA). Pittsfield Township supervisor Mandy Grewal addressed commissioners during public commentary, thanking them for their support of the CIA. One opponent to the CIA – former township official Christina Lirones – spoke during two opportunities for public commentary, urging the board to opt out of the CIA.
Other items handled during the Nov. 6 meeting included (1) final approval to extend the coordinated funding approach for human services, as well as to authorize some changes in that funding model; (2) appointment of an advisory committee to propose options for county property on Platt Road; (3) final approval of a brownfield plan for Chelsea Milling Co. (Jiffy Mix); and (4) appointment of Ellen Rabinowitz as temporary health officer to replace Dick Fleece, who’s retiring at the end of 2013.
Communications during the meeting included public commentary from supporters of the Delonis Center homeless shelter in Ann Arbor, and concerns about state standards for permissible levels of 1,4-dioxane.
At its June 5, 2013 meeting, the Washtenaw County board of commissioners approved an annual community corrections plan with a $1,042,468 budget for FY 2013-14 – from Oct. 1, 2013 through Sept. 30, 2014. [.pdf of community corrections plan]
The community corrections division is a unit of the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office, with an emphasis on programs and services aimed at keeping people out of jail by providing sentencing options for the Washtenaw County Trial Court – including pre-trial services, drug testing, electronic monitoring, and social education. The funding comes from several sources: (1) $421,900 in state revenue; (2) $260,890 in program-generated fees; (3) $240,983 in appropriations from the county’s general fund; and (4) $118,703 from fund balance.
According to …
Washtenaw County commissioners have given final authorization to apply for a $20,000 grant to fund expansion of an after-school program called “Telling It” in the West Willow and MacArthur Boulevard housing developments, low-income neighborhoods on the county’s east side. The vote came at the county board’s Feb. 6, 2013 meeting. Initial approval was received on Jan. 15, 2013. [.pdf of grant application]
According to a staff memo, the Telling It program focuses on developing creative writing and literacy skills for at-risk youth. It would support an effort to fight gang-related activity – specifically, the dozen or so “cliques” in the Ypsilanti/Willow Run area. The memo defines cliques as gangs “without by-laws, or a code of ethics, ultimately …
Three agenda items related to homeland security grants were approved by the Washtenaw County board of commissioners at its Jan. 16, 2013 meeting.
The county board was asked to authorize a change in fiduciary for homeland security grants. The Southeast Michigan Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) board oversees homeland security funding and policy for this region. The UASI has named Macomb County as regional fiduciary. Previously, Oakland County held that designation. The change requires that Washtenaw County sign a new inter-local fiduciary agreement with Macomb County before any funds from previously awarded grants can be distributed.
The county is receiving $816,713 in 2011 federal homeland security grant funds, for a period through May 30, 2014. The emergency services division of the county …
Washtenaw County commissioners have supported an application for a $20,000 grant to fund expansion of an after-school program called “Telling It” in the West Willow and MacArthur Boulevard housing developments, low-income neighborhoods on the east side of Washtenaw County. The initial approval came at the county board’s Jan. 16, 2013 meeting. A final vote is expected on Feb. 6. [.pdf of grant application]
According to a staff memo, the Telling It program focuses on developing creative writing and literacy skills for at-risk youth. It would support an effort to fight gang-related activity – specifically, the dozen or so “cliques” in the Ypsilanti/Willow Run area. The memo defines cliques as gangs “without bi-laws, or a code of ethics, ultimately heightening …
Seeking his second four-year term as Washtenaw County sheriff, Jerry Clayton described his experience, values, and approach to law enforcement during an Oct. 10 candidate forum moderated by the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area.
Clayton, a Democrat, is running against Republican Jeffrey Gallatin, who did not attend the Nov. 10 forum.
First elected in 2008, Clayton said his goals coming into office had been ambitious and weren’t yet completely achieved. He highlighted partnerships that his office has strengthened with other law enforcement agencies, and an approach that emphasizes pro-active ways to address the root causes of crime, such as substance abuse and homelessness.
The sheriff’s office is responsible for a broad range of public safety services, including management of the jail, 911 dispatch, and police services throughout the county. He said he’d led the process that resulted in new contracts with several local municipalities for sheriff deputy patrols, consolidation of 911 dispatch operations with the city of Ann Arbor, and a proposed cost structure for animal control services.
Like other offices led by elected county officials, the sheriff’s office is an independent unit within the county government, but its budget must be authorized by the county board of commissioners. The county’s $97.7 million general fund budget for 2012, approved by the board late last year, included $23.965 million for sheriff office operations, $19.448 million for corrections, and $2.534 million for emergency services.
The Oct. 10 candidate forum was held at the studios of Community Television Network, and is available online via CTN’s video-on-demand service. Information on this and other local elections can be found on the Washtenaw County clerk’s elections division website. To see a sample ballot for your precinct, visit the Secretary of State’s website. Local candidates also were given the opportunity to answer questions for the League of Women Voters Vote411.org website. Clayton responded to four questions on that site, but Gallatin did not participate.
The annual plan and application for funding of Washtenaw County’s community corrections program was approved at the July 11, 2012 meeting of the county board of commissioners. The plan covers the period from Oct. 1, 2012 through Sept. 30, 2013 with a $1,037,788 budget.
Community corrections is operated by the sheriff’s office and includes a variety of programs. Goals include: (1) reducing prison sentences for eligible offenders; (2) reducing jail crowding so that priority for jail beds will be reserved for dangerous offenders; and (3) reducing recidivism by providing credible alternatives to incarceration. Services range from pre-trial intervention to jail-based programs and treatment initiatives for probationers and parolees.
Of the $1.037 million budget, $430,719 is expected to be funded by the Michigan Dept. of Corrections, with an additional $260,890 …
At its June 6, 2012 meeting, the Washtenaw County board of commissioners gave final approval to apply for a $1,348,853 federal grant from the U.S. Dept. of Labor to fund Project LIFT, a jobs training and service program for juvenile ex-offenders run by the county sheriff’s office. The program aims to serve 100 youth. [.pdf of program description] The grant application had received initial approval at the board’s May 16, 2012 meeting.
A staff memo notes that while Washtenaw County “has the best employment rates compared to its neighbors, it also has the highest rate of criminal recidivism in the state, with 80% of released prisoners being re-imprisoned 2-3 years later. In addition, many at-risk youth reside in communities that serve …
At its May 16, 2012 meeting, the Washtenaw County board of commissioners authorized application for a $1,348,853 federal grant from the U.S. Dept. of Labor to fund Project LIFT, a jobs training and service program for juvenile ex-offenders run by the county sheriff’s office. The program aims to serve 100 youth. [.pdf of program description]
A staff memo notes that while Washtenaw County “has the best employment rates compared to its neighbors, it also has the highest rate of criminal recidivism in the state, with 80% of released prisoners being re-imprisoned 2-3 years later. In addition, many at-risk youth reside in communities that serve as a revolving door for offenders returning to society from our jails and prisons. With community-based reintegration in …
Initial approval to apply for an Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grant was given by the Washtenaw County board of commissioners at their Aug. 3, 2011 meeting. A final vote is expected at their next board meeting on Sept. 7.
The $42,587 grant would be awarded to the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office by the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. The funds would be used to support the sheriff’s community outreach program, according to a staff memo. Specifically, the grant would fund a part-time community engagement coordinator and two of the program’s five peer outreach workers.
Commissioners also set a public hearing for Sept. 7 to get input on how the grant will be used.
This brief was filed from the boardroom of the …
The outcome of a vote at tonight’s Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting could mean another step toward ending a years-long legal battle over the cost of sheriff deputy patrols.
A resolution is expected to be added as a supplemental agenda item at Wednesday night’s meeting, asking commissioners to approve the recommendation of a court-ordered facilitator. At issue is how much is owed by Ypsilanti Township and August Township to the county for police services that were provided by the county in 2006. That was the year those townships, along with Salem Township, filed a lawsuit against the county over the price of contract deputies.
While county representatives previously indicated they were seeking around $2 million, the recommendation calls for payment to the county of $749,427 – the bulk of that from Ypsilanti Township. In addition to approval from the county board, the recommendation would also need to be voted on by the boards of both townships. Those meetings are expected to occur next week.
On a related note, the county board is also expected to take a final vote at Wednesday’s meeting to set the price that municipalities will pay for a contract sheriff’s deputy through 2015.
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.
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.
At its Wednesday, June 1 meeting, the Washtenaw County board of commissioners will be asked to give initial approval to the price that municipalities will pay for a contract sheriff’s deputy through 2015.
At a board working session on May 19, sheriff Jerry Clayton briefed commissioners about a recommendation from the police services steering committee (PSSC) to set the price in 2012 at $150,594 – the same amount that’s currently charged – with incremental increases over the following three years. By 2015, the price would reach $155,157 per police services unit, an amount that includes overhead and other costs.
For well over a year, the PSSC has been working on the contentious issue of how much it costs to provide sheriff patrols – and how much local municipalities should be charged. In late 2010, the committee brought forward a recommendation to the board that determined the cost of providing a police services unit (PSU) to be $176,108. At its Dec. 1 meeting, the board voted to accept that amount, with the understanding that they’d need to make a much harder decision – about the price that the county would charge for a PSU – at a later date.
That time has come.
The difference between the cost of a PSU and the amount charged – roughly $25,500, based on current figures – would be absorbed by the county. Leaders of two local municipalities – Ann Arbor township supervisor Mike Moran and Pat Vailliencourt, president of the Manchester village council – attended the May 19 work session. Both are members of the PSSC. They argued that the county benefits from supporting deputy patrols by creating a safer environment for residents and businesses, and ultimately strengthening the local economy.
Also during the May 19 working session, Clayton identified other policy issues that the board needs to address – issues that he’s raised a previous meetings as well. They include setting the contract length – Clayton favors longer terms – and developing a policy to handle requests from municipalities to add or subtract deputies.
If commissioners give initial approval to the price on June 1, the resolution would return for a final vote at the board’s July 6 meeting. The board is now operating on a summer schedule, with meetings held on the first Wednesday of the month.
Washtenaw County board of commissioners retreat (Jan. 29, 2011): A budget retreat for county commissioners last Saturday – also attended by other elected county officials and staff – laid some groundwork for tackling Washtenaw County’s two-year, $20.9 million projected deficit.
While no decisions were made, the group took steps toward reaching consensus on budget priorities. They identified among their main concerns: public safety, service delivery and human services. At the end of the five-hour session, several commissioners cited the main benefit of the day as building closer relationships with each other, which they hope will help the board and other elected officials – including the sheriff, prosecuting attorney and treasurer – work together more effectively as they make difficult decisions about programs and services to cut.
The retreat was led by board chair Conan Smith, who structured the day with time for sharing individual priorities and concerns, combined with small group work to discuss specific outcomes the commissioners hope will result from those priorities. For example, if public safety is a priority, a possible outcome might be the goal of responding to a 911 call in 20 minutes or less. The county could then budget its resources to achieve that outcome.
Though these kinds of examples emerged during the retreat, the work of setting priorities will continue. Smith said the goal is to develop a formal board resolution outlining their priorities, to guide the budget-setting process. The board will hold its next retreat on Wednesday, Feb. 9 from 6-9 p.m., immediately following its 5:30 p.m. administrative briefing. Both meetings are public, and will be held at the county administration building, 220 N. Main St. in Ann Arbor.
The county’s fiscal year mirrors the calendar year, and budgets are developed on two-year cycles. The current budget runs through the end of 2011. While there will likely be some additional cuts this year, most discussions are focused on the 2012-2013 budget, which commissioners will be asked to approve by the end of this year. [For additional background, see Chronicle coverage: "'State of County' Tackles $20M Deficit"]
This report summarizes Saturday’s discussions of personal priorities, aspirations for Washtenaw County, budget priorities, and reflections on the process. For breakout sessions, we covered the group focused on public safety. By day’s end there were threads of optimism – Yousef Rabhi, one of four new commissioners, said he felt inspired that they were starting to work not just as a team, but “almost as a family.” But notes of caution were sounded as well, as veteran commissioner Wes Prater told the group that “the most difficult part is yet to come.”
Members of the Washtenaw County police services steering committee (PSSC) have spent more than a year working to reach agreement over the cost of putting a sheriff’s deputy on the road. The amount for what’s called a police services unit – $176,108 – was accepted in a unanimous vote by the county board of commissioners at their meeting in early December.
But when members of the PSSC gathered again in mid-December, they were already focused on what several members characterized as their next, far greater challenge: Determining the price that municipalities will actually pay for a contract sheriff’s deputy.
Sheriff Jerry Clayton told committee members that after board approval of the cost – “which I think we all agree is a good thing” – the committee needs to start working on a price recommendation, which the board must also ultimately approve. Starting Jan. 1, municipalities are paying $150,594 for each contract sheriff’s deputy they hire to patrol their jurisdiction, an amount that includes overhead in addition to salary and benefits. It’s a 4% increase over the 2010 rate – and one major question is how to set that price in the future. The difference between the cost and the price is paid out of the county’s general fund.
In addition to determining price, Clayton said other policy issues include setting the contract length – he’s in favor of four-year terms – and developing a policy to handle requests to add or subtract deputies from a municipality’s contract.
As part of a wide-ranging discussion with the committee, Clayton also noted that the two unions representing sheriff deputies had worked out new agreements that would save the county several million dollars. Those savings would, he hoped, help convince county commissioners to flatline the price for contract deputies at the 2011 rate. [The next day, on Dec. 16, the Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM) union announced a ratified agreement with the county that's expected to save $4.426 million over the next four years. The Command Officers Association of Michigan (COAM) union is expected to vote on a similar agreement this month.]