Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (Jan. 18, 2012): The Ann Arbor city council has been grappling with the issue of a four-party countywide transit agreement – a resolution regarding the accord is on Monday’s council agenda. And although Washtenaw County is one of the four parties being asked to approve the agreement, it hasn’t come before the county board yet as a formal resolution.
At the Washtenaw County board of commissioners Jan. 18, 2012 meeting, Ann Arbor city councilmember Stephen Kunselman talks with Mary Jo Callan, director of the joint Washtenaw County/city of Ann Arbor office of community and economic development. Kunselman was on hand to air concerns about the proposed countywide transit authority. (Photos by the writer.)
However, the issue emerged at the board’s Jan. 18 meeting when two people – including city councilmember Stephen Kunselman – spoke during public commentary to share their views with county commissioners. Among Kunselman’s points was a concern that Ann Arbor might end up shouldering the burden for countywide transit, if most other communities opt out.
A few commissioners responded to the public commentary. Alicia Ping – who represents a district covering Saline and several townships in southwest Washtenaw – indicated that many people in her district were not inclined to participate in a countywide transit authority. Wes Prater expressed concerns about the process so far, calling it convoluted and confusing.
The main action at the board’s Jan. 18 meeting also reflected ties between the county and Ann Arbor – a presentation and vote on the consolidation of county and Ann Arbor 911 dispatch services. The proposal, which was unanimously approved, called for entering into a contract with the city from Feb. 1, 2012 to Jan. 30, 2017. The city will pay $759,089 annually for dispatch services. In addition, the county expects to receive an increase of $677,893 annually from 911 fees. The Ann Arbor city council had already approved the agreement at its Dec. 5, 2011 meeting.
Sheriff Jerry Clayton told commissioners that he believes the dispatch model they’re developing will be among the best practices nationally, and will be replicated by other dispatch operations in the country. This partnership between Washtenaw County’s two largest public safety entities will strengthen core police services in the county, he said.
In other action, the board gave initial approval to one of the last remaining contracts with a union representing Washtenaw County employees – a two-year collective bargaining agreement with AFSCME Local 3052, representing 52 general supervisors. A final vote by the board is expected at its Feb. 1 meeting. Negotiations continue with four remaining bargaining units that have not yet reached an agreement on a new contract.
The board also approved a brownfield plan for Arbor Hills Crossing, a development in Ann Arbor at the corner of Washtenaw and Platt, and formally accepted a $3 million grant to support the Washtenaw County Sustainable Community project, which focuses on the Washtenaw Avenue corridor spanning Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Pittsfield Township and Ypsilanti Township. Arbor Hills Crossing will be located along that corridor.
County administrator Verna McDaniel updated the board on turning over the Washtenaw Head Start program to federal officials, a move that commissioners had approved last year as part of the budget process. The county will end its 46-year affiliation with Head Start on July 31. McDaniel reported that the Washtenaw Intermediate School District is interested in applying to take over the program locally, and that federal officials plan to issue a request for proposals (RFP) during the first quarter of this year.
Not mentioned during McDaniel’s update was the status of an investigation begun last year into actions of the program’s two top officials, director Patricia Horne McGee and Lovida Roach, the program’s second-in-command. Responding to a follow-up query from The Chronicle, Diane Heidt, the county’s human resources and labor relations director, said the allegations that prompted the investigation were “founded.” Heidt said the county could not release details, but that no misuse of funds was involved. Horne McGee retired at the end of 2011. Roach will remain on leave until the county relinquishes control of Head Start, and at that point she will also retire, Heidt said.
The meeting also included a transition of sorts. Commissioner Leah Gunn has typically taken on the parliamentary action of moving the agenda at each of the board’s meetings, which entails reading off the agenda items. Gunn, who is not running for re-election this year, announced that Wednesday’s meeting was her “farewell agenda” – she would be relinquishing that task for the remainder of her tenure on the board. [Her term runs through the end of 2012.] After she completed the task this final time, Yousef Rabhi teased her, saying Gunn “moved the agenda very well.” [Full Story]