Stories indexed with the term ‘regionalism’

Security Alliance Formed for Eastern Washtenaw

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 ... [Full Story]

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 … [Full Story]

Work Continues on Animal Control Policy

Members of a task force of Washtenaw County commissioners are developing a policy to guide the county’s investment in animal control services. At their most recent meeting, on June 29, they talked through different service levels that the county might provide, beyond what are mandated by the state.

Dan Smith, Conan Smith, Pete Simms

From left: Washtenaw County commissioners Dan Smith and Conan Smith, and Pete Simms, management analyst with the county clerk's office.

Their work is laying a foundation for soliciting proposals later this year – possibly by September – for an entity to handle the county’s animal control services. The county currently contracts with the Humane Society of Huron Valley for that work.

A separate work group, led by sheriff Jerry Clayton, is developing a cost structure for those services. A preliminary cost analysis has already been drafted, but a more detailed report is being prepared that will give estimates for different service levels that might be offered.

The policy task force and cost work group were created by the county board at its Feb. 15, 2012 meeting, when commissioners also approved a $415,000 contract with the HSHV to provide animal control services for the county through Dec. 31, 2012. The task force and work group will likely come together at a July 25 meeting, another step toward setting a new scope of services tied to costs.

The July 25 discussion is expected to include representatives from other communities that have their own animal control ordinances, including Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township. Commissioners also plan to invite county prosecuting attorney Brian Mackie to the table as well – his office has purview over prosecuting animal cruelty cases and other legal issues related to animal control, which have an impact on expenses.

At the June 29 meeting, there was some discussion about issuing a preliminary request for proposals (RFP), to get responses about costs for a minimum level of service. However, it’s not clear whether that idea has traction. Rob Turner, the county board’s liaison to the cost work group, said he was shocked that such an approach might be considered, given the amount of work that’s being done to develop a policy and cost structure as the basis for issuing an RFP. Conan Smith, the board chair who is spearheading this effort, indicated it was not his intent to sideline the existing process.

Throughout the June 29 meeting, commissioner Barbara Bergman was vocal in her support of keeping costs to a minimum and in sticking to the county’s mandated services. She said her compassion is for human beings who don’t have food or shelter, and she doesn’t want to be considered uncompassionate just because she wants the county’s funding to be spent on humans.

A representative from the Humane Society of Huron Valley – Jenny Paillon, HSHV director of operations – told commissioners that ideas for generating new revenue are also being developed, and could be presented at the July 25 meeting. That meeting is scheduled from 8-10 a.m. at the lower level of the county administration building, 200 N. Main in Ann Arbor.

All of these meetings are open to the public and are being facilitated by members of the Dispute Resolution Center. Information related to this process – including meeting minutes and materials provided to commissioners – are also posted on the county’s website. [Full Story]

County Board Briefed on Washtenaw Corridor

Transportation issues, regional cooperation and economic development were the focus of two presentations at a working session for the Washtenaw County board of commissioners earlier this month.

Ann Arbor planning commissioners and staff on Washtenaw Avenue

Ann Arbor planning commissioners and staff on a late April bus tour along Washtenaw Avenue, focusing on a project to improve that corridor between Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor. The iconic Ypsi-Arbor Bowl sign has since been removed. (Photos by the writer.)

The board got an update on the Washtenaw Avenue corridor improvement project, an effort to revitalize the county’s most congested – and, in many sections, blighted – commercial stretch. The project is focused on the roughly five miles between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, which also crosses land within Pittsfield and Ypsilanti townships. All four communities are involved in the project and several government leaders from those jurisdictions attended the working session, including Ypsilanti city councilmember Pete Murdock, Ann Arbor councilmember Tony Derezinski, Ypsilanti Township supervisor Brenda Stumbo and clerk Karen Lovejoy Roe, Ypsilanti Township planning commissioner Larry Krieg, and Craig Lyon, director of Pittsfield Township utilities and municipal services.

Anya Dale, the Washtenaw County planner who’s been coordinating the project, briefed commissioners on both the history and the current status of efforts along the corridor. One of the main questions – how the four communities will formally partner on the project – remains undecided. One option would be to form a corridor improvement authority (CIA), a tax increment finance (TIF) district that would provide revenues to fund improvements. Though governing boards and councils for each jurisdiction have passed resolutions of intent to form a CIA, Dale said they’re waiting on possible state legislative changes that would allow for one CIA to be formed along the entire corridor.

Another uncertainty relates to staff: Commissioners learned that Dale is leaving the county to take a job at the University of Michigan’s Office of Campus Sustainability. She’s been spending about a third of her time on the Washtenaw Avenue project, and it’s unclear who will pick up that work.

The same meeting also included an update from Michael Ford, CEO of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, on a possible countywide transit system. That presentation will be included in an upcoming Chronicle report. [Full Story]

AATA Plans for Countywide System

Charles Griffith and Michael Ford, two men standing together

Charles Griffith, AATA board member (left),  and Michael Ford, CEO of the AATA, talk about Ford’s presentation and the board’s subsequent discussion after an Oct. 29 meeting. (Photo by the writer.)

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board meeting (Oct. 29, 2009): At a special meeting of the AATA board held before dinner at Weber’s Inn, recently hired CEO Michael Ford gave board members a presentation that hammered home one basic point: The AATA needs to expand its current vision and mission by establishing a countywide transportation authority.

The AATA is currently funded by a millage levied at a rate of a little over 2 mill just in the city of Ann Arbor, with service to additional municipalities funded through purchase of service agreements (POSAs).

Board members were generally receptive to Ford’s presentation – David Nacht’s remarks reflected that this was essentially what they’d hired him to do. And to get things rolling towards an expanded, countywide mission for the AATA, Ford asked the board to adopt four specific resolutions in the coming few months. But when those resolutions are adopted, it’s not going to have an immediate impact on bus riders’ lives. As Nacht put it Thursday night, that’s simply “when the real work begins.”

And board member Rich Robben allowed that there were issues that he did not yet “feel that warm and fuzzy feeling about,” noting that ultimately the move to a countywide authority would need the support of the voting public.

After the jump, we take a look at the four specific steps Ford is asking the board to take, and summarize the board’s discussion on his proposal. [Full Story]

AATA: What’s Our Vision?

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board meeting (Feb. 18, 2009 ): At its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, the AATA board postponed a vote on its vision statement until its March meeting, when the board as a whole will thrash through the statement. A bit of news relevant to the board’s vision of the future was the announcement that the number of candidates for the executive directorship has been winnowed down to five. That position has been open since Greg Cook’s resignation in early 2007. Speaking briefly to the board at the meeting on the topic of its search for an executive director and the issue of countywide service was the mayor of Ypsilanti, Paul Schreiber. [Full Story]

Column: Limited Edition

The popular political and media rallying cry is “we need bold new ideas to move Michigan’s future forward.” Such visionary statements make for good politics and good press. Well, what about going back to the old ideas that worked. Work, provide, save, and be conscious of the needs of others.

Hey, the party is over. We don’t save much anymore. We spend what we earn, borrow some more from other governments, to buy all of the latest plasma electronics at low prices at Wal-mart. America’s largest retailer then ships the $10 billion we borrowed in merchandise payments back to China each year and we start the cycle all over again. [Full Story]