Action Delayed on Staff for County Budget Work

Washtenaw County commissioners postponed action on a proposal to hire a contract position that would support budget-related work for the county board and administration. The vote came at the board’s Feb. 5, 2014 meeting, which postponed the item until March 5.

At the board’s Nov. 20, 2013 meeting, commissioners had given direction to county administrator Verna McDaniel to research and recommend staffing options that would support the board’s community investment priorities. As part of adopting a four-year budget, the board set up a new strategic model to help them determine where the county’s resources should go. The board set goals as well as outcomes that are intended to measure how those goals are being achieved.

The priority areas for investment that were approved by the board in 2013 are: (1) ensure community safety net through health and human services, inclusive of public safety; (2) increase economic opportunity and workforce development; (3) ensure mobility and civic infrastructure for county residents; (4) reduce environmental impact; and (5) ensure internal labor force sustainability and effectiveness.

The dollar amount for this position wasn’t included in the resolution, which stated that “compensation shall not exceed the scope of the Administrator’s authority.” The administrator has 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. [.pdf of staff memo and resolution] A four-page job description was also included in the board packet. The person would report to the county administrator in terms of daily operations. [.pdf of job description]

The issue was debated at some length during the board’s Jan. 22, 2014 meeting, when commissioner Ronnie Peterson (D-District 6) questioned the process for hiring this kind of staff support. On Feb. 5, several commissioners expressed concern about spending money on this position and wanted more details about funding and duties, which led to the postponement.

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