County Amends Energy Alliance Accord

Washtenaw County commissioners have approved amendments to an interlocal agreement with the Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office Community Alliance. The action took place at the county board’s Feb. 6, 2013 meeting. There was minimal discussion on this item.

The history of this partnership dates back to 2010. The county board voted initially to join the Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office (SEMREO) – a separate entity from the SEMREO Community Alliance – at its March 17, 2010 meeting. At the time, SEMREO was a division of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, a Ferndale-based nonprofit that’s led by county commissioner Conan Smith. Smith abstained from the March 17, 2010 vote, following conflict-of-interest concerns raised by other commissioners. SEMREO later split off from the Michigan Suburbs Alliance as a separate organization, but Smith serves on its board of directors.

Washtenaw County became involved in the SEMREO Community Alliance in 2011. On Aug. 3, 2011, the county board voted to join the SEMREO Community Alliance and approved the original interlocal agreement. According to Sam Offen – SEMREO director and co-director of the SEMREO Community Alliance – the alliance was created in order to pursue certain grant funding that’s not available to municipalities directly. It includes six partners: Washtenaw County, and the cities of Lathrup Village (in Oakland County); Sterling Heights and Roseville (in Macomb County); and Lincoln Park and Southgate (in Wayne County). [.pdf of original interlocal agreement] Smith was absent from the Aug. 3, 2011 meeting when the Washtenaw County board voted to join the alliance.

On Feb. 6, Smith was also absent for the vote to amend the SEMREO Community Alliance interlocal agreeement, arriving at the meeting after the vote had been taken. However, he asked the board if he could record affirmative votes for all items that he had missed – which included the SEMREO Community Alliance item. None of the other commissioners objected.

According to a staff memo, the amended interlocal agreement includes 13 changes, summarized in the county board’s resolution. [.pdf of interlocal agreement resolution] Changes include: (1) clarifying local government appointment and removal powers; (2) allowing video conferencing for quorum and voting; (3) allowing teleconferencing for participation, but not voting or quorum; (4) adding forms and rules for additional parties to join the alliance; and (5) clarifying the entity that determines how costs and expenses are to be distributed. A full copy of the amended interlocal agreement was not provided in the board’s Feb. 6 meeting packet. Offen emailed it to The Chronicle following the meeting. [.pdf of amended interlocal agreement]

Washtenaw County is the last of the six partners to authorize the amendments. The amended agreement has been reviewed by the state attorney general’s office and will now be sent to Gov. Rick Snyder for his approval.

This brief was filed from the boardroom of the county administration building, 220 N. Main St. in Ann Arbor. A more detailed report will follow: [link]