Stories indexed with the term ‘land bank’

New Labor Contracts Key to County Budget

Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (March 20, 2013): In its main action, the county board approved new long-term contracts with 15 of Washtenaw County government’s 17 bargaining units – including annual wage increases, a cap on employee healthcare contributions, and the elimination of “banked leave” days. The precedent-setting move aimed to protect unions before Michigan’s right-to-work law takes effect on March 28, and cut legacy costs for the county.

Conan Smith, Dan Smith, Washtenaw County board of commissioners, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

From left: Conan Smith (D-District 9) and Dan Smith (R-District 2) at the Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting on March 20. Dan Smith cast the lone vote against new contracts with labor unions representing county employees, citing concerns over the length of the agreements. Most of the contracts run through Dec. 31, 2023. (Photos by the writer.)

About 85% of the nearly 1,300 county workers belong to a union. The board also approved similar wage and benefit changes for the county’s non-union employees.

The right-to-work law will make it illegal to require employees to support unions financially as a condition of their employment, but labor agreements in place prior to March 28 will not be affected until they expire. Most of the previous contracts with the county’s labor unions were set to expire on Dec. 31, 2013. All but one of the new deals will run for more than 10 years – through Dec. 31, 2023.

Dan Smith (R-District 2) cited the length of those contracts as a reason for casting his no vote – he was the only commissioner to vote against the union contracts, though he supported the agreement for non-union employees. The duration eliminates the flexibility to deal with different conditions that might face the county in the future, he said. There is no “re-opener” clause that would allow either side to renegotiate before 2023.

Despite his no vote, Smith praised the most significant changes that will impact employees hired after Jan. 1, 2014. Those employees will participate in a defined contribution retirement plan, instead of the current defined benefit plan – the Washtenaw County Employees’ Retirement System (WCERS). In defined benefit plans, retirees receive a set amount per month during their retirement. In defined contribution plans, employers pay a set amount into the retirement plan while a person is employed. The most common defined contribution plan is the 401(k). Similar changes in retiree healthcare plans will also affect new employees.

The shift in the county’s approach to retirement plans and retiree healthcare was a major concern for several other commissioners. While acknowledging the benefits of eliminating the county’s legacy costs, Conan Smith (D-District 9) cautioned that retirees could be put at risk without the predictable stability of a defined benefit plan. However, he also noted that the board can’t continue to put the institution at risk by “guaranteeing something that we don’t know we’re going to be able to afford in the long run.”

Those legacy costs were a factor alluded to during the March 20 discussion, linking to another major decision that is expected to come before the board: bonding to cover the county’s unfunded liabilities for employee pensions and retiree healthcare. The issue hasn’t been discussed directly at any of the board’s regular meetings, but commissioners have been informed that a proposal likely will be brought forward by administration.

Based on actuarial valuations at the end of 2011, the county had $101.27 million in unfunded liabilities for its defined benefit pension, and $148.46 million in unfunded liabilities for its retiree healthcare. Those amounts will be higher when the 2012 actuarial valuations are completed later this year. The new accounting standards of GASB 68 require that unfunded liabilities must be included in an organization’s financial statements for fiscal years beginning after June 15, 2014.

Commissioners also got a year-end 2012 financial update during the March 20 meeting – the final 2012 audit will be brought to the board in April. Total revenues exceeded total expenditures by $2.26 million. The county had planned for a surplus of $1.889 million to carry into 2013 – so the year ended with an excess of $327,607 above that targeted amount.

In other action items, the board voted to form a committee that will explore the feasibility of creating a land bank, and appointed three people to the committee: Commissioner Ronnie Peterson (D-District 6), county treasurer Catherine McClary, and Mary Jo Callan, director of the county’s office of community & economic development. The committee is directed to report back to the board by Aug. 7, 2013.

During communications from the board, Conan Smith reported that the southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority board has now been fully appointed, and will convene on March 28 for an orientation meeting. He suggested that the two Washtenaw County representatives – Richard “Murph” Murphy and Liz Gerber – come talk to commissioners about what the county’s interests and priorities are. “The earlier we weigh in, the more systemic the impact of our comments are going to be,” he said. “If we don’t talk to them until they’ve already made decisions, then it’s going to be too late.” [Full Story]

County to Explore Creating Land Bank

Washtenaw County commissioners have voted to form a committee that will explore the feasibility of creating a land bank. The unanimous vote took place at the board’s March 20, 2013 meeting. The resolution named three people to the committee: Commissioner Ronnie Peterson (D-District 6), county treasurer Catherine McClary, and Mary Jo Callan, director of the county’s office of community & economic development. The committee is directed to report back to the board by Aug. 7, 2013.

A land bank is a mechanism for the county to take temporary ownership of tax- or mortgage-foreclosed land while working to put it back into productive use. “Productive use” could mean several things – such as selling it to a nonprofit like Habitat for … [Full Story]

County Board Continues Labor Strategy Talks

Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (Feb. 20, 2013): In a meeting with few new action items, the board gave final approval to a resolution protesting the state’s right-to-work law, and spent more than an hour in executive closed session to discuss collective bargaining strategies.

Diane Heidt, Greg Dill, Washtenaw County board of commissioners, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Diane Heidt, the county’s human resources and labor relations director, talks with Greg Dill, director of infrastructure management. (Photos by the writer.)

The resolution taking a stance against the state law was approved on a 6-2 vote, with dissent from the board’s two Republican commissioners – Dan Smith (District 2) and Alicia Ping (District 3). Felicia Brabec (D-District 4) was absent. Though Smith had stated his objections on Feb. 6, when an initial vote had been taken, there was no discussion on the item at the Feb. 20 meeting.

The resolution directed the administration to negotiate new four-year contracts “to protect and extend each bargaining unit’s union security provisions.” Current contracts with most of the 17 unions representing county employees expire at the end of 2013. New contracts, if completed before the right-to-work law takes effect in March, would not be required to comply with the new law, which makes it illegal to require employees to support unions financially as a condition of their employment.

Negotiations with the unions began earlier this month.

In other action at the Feb. 20 meeting, the board appointed Dan Smith to the Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission – the third county commissioner to be appointed to that 10-member board. Ronnie Peterson (D-District 6) raised concerns about having too many commissioners serve on that entity, noting that Smith was filling a slot designated for the general public.

Yousef Rabhi, who as board chair made the nomination, responded to Peterson’s comments, saying that he and Smith had discussed this issue – because Smith had the same concerns as Peterson. Rabhi assured Peterson that the commission will continue to provide opportunities for citizens to serve, and that the slot filled by Smith would remain designated as one for the general public for future appointments. Five members of the general public currently serve on the parks & rec commission.

In communications to the board, Rabhi noted that he planned to form a task force to explore establishing a county land bank. A land bank is a mechanism for the county to take temporary ownership of tax- or mortgage-foreclosed land while working to put it back into productive use. The board had previously voted to establish a land bank at its Sept. 1, 2010 meeting, but never took the next step of funding it or getting approval from the state. Only three commissioners from that period – Ronnie Peterson, Rolland Sizemore Jr. and Conan Smith – still currently serve on the board.

Among the other items handled at the Feb. 20 meeting included: Resolutions of appreciation for two Chelsea organizations – Purple Rose Theatre and Chelsea Lanes; a final vote to authorize borrowing up to $40 million against the amount of delinquent property taxes in all Washtenaw County jurisdictions; and final approval to add the Detroit Region Aerotropolis board to the list of boards, committees and commissions that are eligible for commissioners to receive stipend payments.

The Feb. 20 meeting was attended by several students, including nursing students from the University of Michigan who were observing the proceedings as part of a psychiatric nursing course. [Full Story]

Land Bank Revived, Millages Reviewed

Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners meeting (Sept. 1, 2010): During a meeting that lasted less than 90 minutes – including a break for a photo op – commissioners covered a lot of ground at their first meeting following a scaled-back summer schedule.

Washtenaw County commissioners get their photo taken.

Washtenaw County commissioners get their photo taken, with plaques given to them by the U.S. Census Bureau. In the foreground, with his back to the camera, is Toine Murphy, a partnership specialist from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Detroit office, who presented the plaques to commissioners. Bonus points to readers who can identify the woman on screen in the background, and what she's doing. (Photos by the writer)

Two millage-related issues were dispatched without discussion: making minor changes to ballot language for renewing the natural areas preservation program millage, and setting a Sept. 15 public hearing for renewal of an indigent veterans relief millage.

Commissioners gave initial approval, again without discussion, to transfer the use of $10 million in federal Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds from the county to the Washtenaw Community College. WCC plans to use the bonds to fund construction of a parking structure.

Also getting initial approval was a resolution to authorize the county to issue dog license renewals year-round, and to add the option of a three-year license. Currently, one-year dog licenses can be bought starting Dec. 1 for the upcoming year.

An agreement with St. Joseph Mercy Health System was terminated, related to the operation of the Delonis Center – the county’s homeless shelter. The agreement, put in place when the shelter was conceived, called for St. Joe’s to step in and operate the center if the entity created to do that work – the Washtenaw Housing Alliance – couldn’t perform that task. The WHA subsequently subcontracted operations to the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County and Food Gatherers, which have been operating the shelter for eight years. St. Joe’s asked that they be released from the agreement, but will keep their representatives on the WHA board.

And after months of discussion and debate, the board approved two resolutions that revived the county’s land bank, which commissioners had voted to dissolve in March 2010. Leah Gunn dissented, and three commissioners – Ken Schwartz, Jessica Ping and Barbara Bergman – were absent. County treasurer Catherine McClary, Ypsilanti mayor Paul Schreiber and Sabra Briere, an Ann Arbor city councilmember, attended the meeting to support the land bank, a tool used to help the county deal with foreclosed and blighted properties, and after the vote they all thanked the board for its action. [Full Story]

No More “Felony Box” on County Job Forms

Washtenaw County board of commissioners (Aug. 4, 2010): A day after the primary election – one that brought victories to all commissioners who were running for office – the board faced a full agenda, but dispatched most of its business with minimal discussion.

Donald Staebler

Donald Staebler, who'll turn 100 later this month, was honored at Wednesday's county board meeting. He has lived on Staebler Farm, which is now owned by the county, for 98 years.

One item, however, yielded lengthy debate: A resolution that would remove the “felony box” from county job applications, and eliminate background checks for all jobs except those deemed sensitive. Several commissioners were uneasy with even partial elimination of background checks. The resolution was ultimately amended to deal with only the felony box, which asks applicants if they’ve ever been convicted of a felony. Commissioners ended up unanimously approving the removal of that question from job applications.

The board also agreed to put a 10-year millage renewal on the November ballot for the county’s natural areas preservation program, and approved brownfield plans for the Near North housing project and an expansion of Zingerman’s Deli. Both of the brownfield projects are located in Ann Arbor – brownfield status enables them to seek Michigan business tax credits and, in the case of Zingerman’s, to use tax increment financing (TIF) to get reimbursed for project-related expenses.

Commissioners got a second-quarter budget update, which revealed few surprises. However, projections indicate that the budget surplus they need to carry over into 2011 will fall short of their goal by about $987,000. Next year will be a challenging one.

The board had been expected to act on re-establishing a land bank for the county, but ended up tabling resolutions related to that effort until next month, citing the need to gather additional information.

The meeting also included time to honor two people from the community: Joseph N. Cousin Sr., pastor of Bethel AME Church in Ann Arbor, and Donald Staebler, a local farmer whose land is being turned into a county park – and who’ll turn 100 later this month. Both men received standing ovations for their work. [Full Story]

Washtenaw Democrats: Districts 10, 11

On the evening of July 13, the four Democratic candidates for the District 11 seat on the Washtenaw County board of commissioners, as well as one candidate for District 10, gathered at the studios of Community Television Network for a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area.

Washtenaw County commissioner candidates for Districts 10 & 11

Washtenaw County commissioner candidates for Districts 10 & 11, from left: Conan Smith, LuAnne Bullington, Mike Fried, Yousef Rabhi, Alice Ralph. Smith is the incumbent for District 10. His challenger, Danielle Mack, did not attend. The other candidates are vying for the District 11 seat held by Jeff Irwin, who is running for state representative. (Photos by the writer.)

There are 11 seats on the county board, divided by geographic region – including four districts representing Ann Arbor. Commissioners are elected to two-year terms. This year, Democratic incumbents in two of Ann Arbor’s districts – Leah Gunn of District 9 and Barbara Bergman of District 8 – are unopposed in the primary, though they will face Republican challengers in November.

Incumbent Conan Smith of District 10, which covers the west and northwest portions of Ann Arbor, faces Danielle Mack in the Democratic primary. She did not attend the forum, citing a scheduling conflict. The winner of that primary will be unopposed in November.

In District 11, incumbent Jeff Irwin – who’s been on the board for a decade – isn’t seeking re-election, but is instead running for state representative in District 53. [See Chronicle coverage: "Michigan Dems Primary: House 53rd District"] Four Democrats are competing in the primary to replace Irwin: LuAnne Bullington, Mike Fried, Yousef Rabhi and Alice Ralph. The winner of the Aug. 3 primary will face Republican Joe Baublis in November. District 11 covers parts of central and eastern Ann Arbor. [See the Washtenaw County election website for a complete list of county commissioner candidates.]

Questions posed by the moderator, Nancy Schewe, had been formulated by a LWV-AAA committee, with input solicited from the community. They covered a range of topics, from funding for the county jail and police services contracts to expansion of the road commission and the candidates’ views on mass transit. Candidates were each given one minute to respond. This summary of candidate responses is presented in the order in which they spoke at the hour-long forum. [Full Story]

County Board Moves Ahead on Land Bank

Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (July 7, 2010): Commissioners spent most of their July meeting on two contentious issues: re-establishing a land bank, and a possible expansion of the county road commission.

Jeff Irwin, Leah Gunn

Washtenaw County commissioners Jeff Irwin (District 11) and Leah Gunn (District 9) confer before the July 7 board meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

After more than an hour of discussion, a majority of commissioners approved a step toward bringing back the land bank, which they’d voted to dissolve in March. Several commissioners raised concerns over funding for the land bank and the expense of property maintenance and rehab, though most said they supported the entity in concept.

A land bank allows the government – through a separate land bank authority – to take temporary ownership of tax- or mortgage-foreclosed land while the county works to put it back into productive use. Commissioner Ronnie Peterson, whose district in Ypsilanti and parts of Ypsilanti Township has been hit hard by foreclosures, has been an advocate for the land bank for several months, and expressed his impatience and frustration during the meeting. A motion to rescind the dissolution of the land bank was not considered at the July 7 meeting, but might be brought forward next month.

The board also held a public hearing on expanding the road commission from three members to five – three residents spoke at the hearing, all opposing the expansion. An animated discussion with a somewhat unclear outcome followed the hearing – with Wes Prater moving to stop the process of expansion, and getting support from the majority of the board. Calling that move “symbolic,” Jeff Irwin said he plans to bring a resolution to the Aug. 4 board meeting that will officially propose the expansion.

Several other items related to financial matters. The board approved an initiative to put more government information online, especially regarding budget and finance. They discussed and authorized re-funding bonds requested by Dexter Township, and noted with some concern that Dexter Township isn’t alone in its struggle to meet bond payments. And county administrator Verna McDaniel signaled her intent to hire Kelly Belknap as the county’s new finance director, replacing Peter Ballios, a 38-year veteran of the county who retired at the end of 2009.

The board also approved a brownfield plan for a project in downtown Ypsilanti, and set public hearings for Aug. 4 regarding two additional brownfield plans – the Near North housing project and Zingerman’s Deli expansion, both in Ann Arbor. The board is also expected to vote on those plans at the Aug. 4 meeting. [Full Story]

Washtenaw Land Bank Debate Continues

On a summer cycle of once-a-month meetings, the Washtenaw County board of commissioners were briefed last week about the agenda for their July 7 meeting. Much of the briefing was spent discussing an item that likely won’t be up for a vote – resurrecting the county’s land bank.

The board dissolved the land bank – a tool used to help the county deal with foreclosed and blighted properties – at their March 2010 meeting, but commissioner Ronnie Peterson has pushed to bring it back. He initially proposed putting a resolution on the June meeting agenda, but later agreed to a request by board chair Rolland Sizemore Jr. to hold off until July. But at the June 29 briefing, Sizemore and Conan Smith, who chairs the board’s Ways & Means Committee, said they were not putting a resolution on the July 7 agenda either, though discussion on the topic is scheduled for the meeting. Peterson did not attend the briefing.

A range of other items are on the agenda, including a public hearing on possible expansion of the county road commission, and a resolution regarding a transparency initiative that’s been in the works for several months. Led by commissioner Kristin Judge, the effort aims to put more of the county’s public documents, especially financial information, online.

Commissioners expressed some concern over one agenda item: Restructuring the debt for a Dexter Township wastewater system, with the goal of lowering payments – payments the township might otherwise have trouble making. The item led some commissioners to ask for a report on debt held by local townships that’s backed by the county’s credit. [Full Story]

County Settles Lawsuit with Salem Twp.

Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners meeting (June 2, 2010): In the first meeting on a scaled-back summer schedule, county commissioners passed a resolution to settle a police services lawsuit with one of three townships that sued the county in 2006.

David Trent, Salem Township clerk

At right: David Trent, Salem Township clerk, attended Wednesday's meeting and thanked commissioners for approving a settlement over the police services lawsuit between the county and township. (Photos by the writer.)

Under terms of the settlement, Salem Township will pay the county nearly $48,000 to cover the costs of sheriff deputy patrols provided by the county in 2006. The townships of Salem, Augusta and Ypsilanti sued the county that year, disputing the amount that was charged for police services. The county and the other two townships are awaiting a judgment to resolve the issue – the county is asking for $2.1 million from Ypsilanti Township and nearly $96,000 from Augusta Township.

David Trent, Salem Township clerk, attended Wednesday’s board meeting and spoke during public commentary, thanking the board for the settlement and saying he was coming forward on behalf of the township board in hopes of starting the healing process between the township and the county. Several commissioners thanked township officials for ending the dispute.

In other agenda items, only one person spoke at a public hearing on the county millage rate, which was set later in the meeting. Commissioners also approved $1.35 million in additional funding to complete the expanded jail and new 14A-1 District Court, with some discussion about issues related to parking and a new Washtenaw Avenue entrance.

And although last month commissioner Ronnie Peterson had vowed to bring a resolution to the June 2 meeting that would reestablish a county land bank, on Wednesday he told commissioners he’d been asked by board chair Rolland Sizemore Jr. to defer that action until their July 7 meeting. Saying he was respectful of that request, Peterson added, “On July 7th, I’ll be aggressive.”

The upcoming elections were mentioned, too. Commissioner Barbara Bergman chastised the Washtenaw County Road Commission for charging Scio Township $2,000 to locate a polling station for the August primary and November general election in the road commission’s Zeeb Road facility. Scio officials say they’ll find another venue, calling the road commission’s decision “disappointing at best.” [Full Story]

Hearing Set on Road Commission Expansion

Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners meeting (May 19, 2010): After some debate and dissent, a resolution to set a public hearing on possibly expanding the Washtenaw County Road Commission won approval last week from a majority of county commissioners. The hearing will take place during the board’s July 7 meeting.

Verna McDaniel

Verna McDaniel took office last week as the new Washtenaw County administrator. (Photo by the writer.)

Several other measures were approved with little discussion, including setting the county’s millage rate and making changes to the Natural Areas Preservation Program ordinance. A vote on minor changes to the county’s retiree health care trust agreement led one commissioner to express concern that the program is underfunded – the topic is likely to come up at a working session later in the year.

And though the board dissolved the county land bank earlier this year, commissioner Ronnie Peterson vowed on Wednesday to reestablish the entity, saying it was a critical tool to help stabilize home ownership in eastern Washtenaw, which he represents. “I’m going to get this passed at all costs to me.”

The board met in executive session to be briefed on the status of a years-long lawsuit that the townships of Ypsilanti, Salem and August brought against the county regarding the cost of police services contracts. There was no discussion of the case during the public portion of the meeting.

There was another notable issue that was not discussed during Wednesday’s meeting, though it was addressed during public commentary by county clerk Larry Kestenbaum: The possible renaming of a county building in honor of recently retired county administrator Bob Guenzel.

And during her first meeting as the new county administrator, Verna McDaniel received praise from board chair Rolland Sizemore Jr., who said that though she had big shoes to fill, he knew she’d do an excellent job. [Full Story]

A Night of Transitions at County Board

Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners (March 17, 2010): The theme of Wednesday night’s meeting was one of transitions, as commissioners voted to dissolve the county’s land bank authority, join a regional energy office, and approve a contract for the next county administrator, Verna McDaniel.

Wes Prater, Paul Schreiber

County commissioner Wes Prater, left, talks with Ypsilanti mayor Paul Schreiber before the start of Wednesday's county board of commissioners meeting. Schreiber came to speak in support of the county's land bank. In the background is deputy clerk Jason Brooks. (Photos by the writer.)

Commissioners also got an update from their lobbyist in Lansing, who spoke of upcoming transitions in state government that will impact the county. Kirk Profit said the turnover in the legislature, governor’s office and other administrative posts could lead to opportunities for the county. Several commissioners raised concerns over the state budget and state funding for local programs, and are worried that the situation will get worse before it gets better.

Wednesday’s meeting also included two official farewells to long-time county employees: finance director Pete Ballios and Trenda Rusher, director of the county’s Employment Training and Community Services (ETCS) department. Both received standing ovations from commissioners, staff and others in the boardroom. [Full Story]

County Board to Vote on Folding Land Bank

Less than a year after the county authorized the formation of a land bank, the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners will consider dissolving the entity at its March 17 meeting.

At their administrative briefing on Wednesday, commissioners discussed the move with county treasurer Catherine McClary, who also attended the meeting. McClary had originally proposed the land bank as a mechanism allowing the county to take temporary ownership of tax- or mortgage-foreclosed land. The intent would be to give the county options for dealing with blighted property, other than selling it off at auction.

But anticipated federal funding didn’t come through, and a dispute among some commissioners about who would serve on the land bank authority board stalled the project. “It’s fair to say that the county was not sold on it,” McClary said at Wednesday’s meeting. [Full Story]

Bryant Neighbors Dig Into Drainage

bryant neighbors

Neighbors gather at the Bryant Community Center to hear Joan Nassauer, a University of Michigan professor, talk about water drainage issues. (Photo by the writer.)

On The Chronicle’s first trip to the Bryant Community Center in December 2008, elected officials, the heads of local nonprofits, city and county staff outnumbered residents at a meeting for the southeast Ann Arbor neighborhood. The reverse was true last Thursday evening, when a room full of neighbors filled every seat, gathering to discuss the challenges they share.

Bryant is one of the few clusters of affordable housing in Ann Arbor. It’s also been hit hard by the mortgage crisis – a foreclosed property in the neighborhood at 2 Faust Court, vacant and boarded up, has been targeted as one of the first acquisitions for the county’s new land bank.

The land bank actually dovetails with a widespread problem that affects nearly all residents, which was the focus of Thursday’s meeting: Inadequate drainage and the chronic pooling of water in crawl spaces, basements, yards and streets. Joan Nassauer, a University of Michigan professor of landscape architecture, has remediated sites with similar problems in Flint, Chicago, St. Paul and other areas. She was on hand Thursday to talk about what Bryant residents might do to address their drainage issues. [Full Story]

Banking on a Land Bank

Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners meeting (July 8, 2009): In large part because the board has adopted a once-a-month summer meeting schedule, the agenda was full for Wednesday’s meeting. Commissioners asked – in some cases, grilled – the county treasurer about a proposed land bank project, which the board ultimately approved.

They also acted on several budget-related items, including 1) setting a public hearing for a proposed economic development tax, 2) passing the first phase of administrator Bob Guenzel’s recommendations to address a projected $26 million deficit, and 3) briefly discussing a proposal for changing the funding process for some nonprofits. Several leaders from the local arts community also turned out for a presentation on a countywide cultural plan.

But a large portion of the meeting was devoted to deliberations on the land bank, and that’s where we’ll begin our coverage. [Full Story]

What’s a Land Bank?

Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners administrative briefing (July 1, 2009): The county’s administrative staff have rearranged their offices a bit, which bumped Wednesday’s administrative briefing into a new location – a room that, unlike their previous meeting place, had windows. “Oh, it’s so bright in here – we’ll need sunglasses!” commissioner Kristin Judge said upon walking into the room.

The briefing also provided a window into the agenda for the upcoming July 8 board meeting. County treasurer Catherine McClary was on hand to brief commissioners on a land bank proposal she’ll be bringing to the board. They also were updated on several state and federal grants the county is receiving or applying for, and discussed a proposed food worker certification program. And following the briefing, a discussion about the committee appointments process brought to light a practice that some commissioners questioned – and resulted in a decision to more strictly enforce application deadlines.

We’ll start with the land bank. [Full Story]