Stories indexed with the term ‘treasurer’s report’

County Crafts Pro-Union Labor Strategy

Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (Feb. 6, 2013): In an evening capped by a nearly three-hour closed session to discuss labor negotiation strategies, a majority of county commissioners affirmed their support of union labor and pushed back against the state’s recent right-to-work legislation, which takes effect in March.

Greg Dill, Jerry Clayton, Catherine McClary, Washtenaw County board of commissioners, Washtenaw County sheriff, Washtenaw County treasurer, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

From left: Greg Dill, Washtenaw County sheriff Jerry Clayton, and Washtenaw County treasurer Catherine McClary. (Photos by the writer.)

On a 6-1 vote – over dissent by Republican Dan Smith – the county board passed a resolution directing the administration to negotiate new four-year contracts “to protect and extend each bargaining unit’s union security provisions.” The resolution also directs negotiations for a separate letter of understanding to cover a 10-year period. The letter would relate to agency fees paid by non-union members based on the idea that they benefit from the union’s representation of their interests during collective bargaining.

Unions represent 85% of the 1,321 employees in Washtenaw County government.

The resolution was brought forward by Andy LaBarre (D-District 7), one of three Ann Arbor commissioners on the nine-member board. Two commissioners – Ronnie Peterson (D-District 6) and Alicia Ping (R-District 3) – were absent.

Deliberations were relatively brief. Dan Smith, who said he found some of the language in the resolution offensive, also pressed for estimates on possible legal expenses, if the county is sued over these new labor agreements. Curtis Hedger, the county’s corporation counsel, was reluctant to speculate, indicating there are still too many unknowns. Diane Heidt, the county’s human resources and labor relations director, told commissioners that the 10-year letter of understanding would have a strong indemnification clause. The union would indemnify the employer for any legal challenges relative to the right-to-work agency shop issue.

The lengthy closed session at the end of the meeting reflected some urgency in negotiations, which must be completed before the new law takes effect in March.

Also at the Feb. 6 meeting, commissioners gave initial authorization to county treasurer Catherine McClary to borrow up to $40 million against the amount of delinquent property taxes in all of the county’s 80 taxing jurisdictions. It’s a standard practice to help the local jurisdictions manage their cash flow. The estimated amount of delinquent taxes is lower than in recent years, possibly reflecting a recovering economy.

McClary also gave the board a year-end report for 2012. Her office brought in $9.96 million during the year from the following sources: delinquent taxes and fees ($5.046 million), accommodation tax ($4.067 million), investment earnings ($755,681), dog licenses ($59,748) and tax searches ($31,760). McClary reported that the county’s investment portfolio totaled $156.08 million at the end of 2012. The non-cash portion of that amount is $147.855 million, which brought in an average weighted yield of 0.456%.

In other action, the board voted to amend an interlocal agreement that will create the Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office Community Alliance. The new alliance – affiliated with the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, led by county commissioner Conan Smith – is being formed to set up a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. The community alliance 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). No other communities in Washtenaw County are part of this alliance. The city of Ann Arbor has already set up its own PACE program.

Also during the Feb. 6 meeting, Yousef Rabhi (D-District 8) reported that he was working with community members and human services providers to establish a Washtenaw County ID card. It would provide a way for residents who don’t have a driver’s license or other photo ID to access services that require such an identification card, such as opening a bank account.

Felicia Brabec reported from the Sustainable Revenue for Supportive Housing Services Task Force, on which she serves. The group is looking at the possibility of an endowment campaign. It’s estimated that about $17 million would be needed “so it’s a big undertaking for us,” she said. That amount would support an additional 116 units of supportive housing throughout the county. [Full Story]

County Board Deals with Transit, Budget, Labor

Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (Aug. 1, 2012): In a move that extends the approval process for a countywide public transportation system, commissioners amended the articles of incorporation for a new transit authority then ultimately approved that document and a related four-party agreement on a 6-4 vote.

Sarah Pressprich Gryniewicz, Leah Gunn

Sarah Pressprich Gryniewicz, left, talks with Washtenaw County commissioner Leah Gunn prior to the start of the Aug. 1, 2012 board of commissioners meeting. Gryniewicz is community outreach coordinator for the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority. (Photos by the writer.)

Because the articles were amended, they will need to be reconsidered by the other three parties in the agreement: the city councils of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, and the board of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, which is spearheading this effort. Those governing bodies are expected to take up the issue at meetings later this month. It will be on the Ann Arbor city council agenda for its Aug. 9 meeting.

Before the county board’s Aug. 1 vote, about a dozen people spoke during a public hearing on the issue, the majority of them in support of the agreement and of expanded public transit in general.

Although amendments had been considered and voted down at the board’s July 11 meeting, on Aug. 1 Rob Turner proposed a new amendment to the articles of incorporation. The original draft stipulated that a two-thirds majority of the new authority’s board would be required to amend the articles of incorporation. Turner’s amendment would have stipulated that a unanimous vote by the new authority’s board would be needed to make such changes. Leah Gunn offered a compromise – a four-fifths majority, or 12 of the new authority’s 15 board members. That amendment to Turner’s amendment passed on a 6-4 vote, with dissent from Turner, Conan Smith, Felicia Brabec and Wes Prater. The vote on the amended amendment itself – requiring the four-fifths majority – passed unanimously.

Turner felt his original amendment offered safeguards for smaller communities. It’s possible for communities to decide to join the new transit authority, only to have the articles of incorporation – the “rules of the game” – changed after they’ve joined, he said. If his amendment had been approved, Turner said he would have supported the four-party agreement and articles of incorporation. He said it no longer seemed like a countywide authority – it seemed like an Ann Arbor system that others could join. That saddened him, he said.

Joining Turner in his final vote against the overall agreement and articles of incorporation were Alicia Ping, Wes Prater and Dan Smith. Rolland Sizemore Jr. was absent.

A range of other items were on the Aug. 1 agenda. Commissioners suspended the county’s use of Construction Unity Board (CUB) agreements, responding to a change in state law. They also gave final approval to a change in the county’s accommodations ordinance, exempting bed & breakfasts, cottages and individuals who occasionally lease out rooms from the 5% accommodations tax. And addressing a need for veterans, the board authorized the county clerk to offer photo IDs that can be used to redeem discounts offered at local businesses.

On an 8-2 vote, commissioners also approved a brownfield financing plan for a $39 million residential development at 618 S. Main St. in Ann Arbor. Before the board’s vote, both Felicia Brabec and Yousef Rabhi praised the development, but said they were voting against it because of concerns about affordability. They did not feel that most young professionals would be able to afford living there, and stressed the importance of having more affordable housing in the downtown area.

The board also heard a report from the county treasurer, and got a second-quarter financial update from staff. Commissioners then approved a $1,263,994 mid-year adjustment to its 2012 general fund budget, bringing the 2012 general fund budget to $101,162,770.

In one of the least controversial items of the meeting, commissioners passed a resolution commending the Washtenaw Community Concert Band – formerly the Ypsilanti Community Band – on its 35th season. Dan Smith, who plays the trumpet, is a member of that group. [Full Story]

Washtenaw County Treasurer Updates Board

Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (Feb. 16, 2011): The county board’s four-hour meeting on Wednesday evening was punctuated by a heated debate about whether some of their meetings are sufficiently in the public eye.

Bill Reynolds, Catherine McClary

Washtenaw County treasurer Catherine McClary, right, talks with deputy county administrator Bill Reynolds before the start of the Feb. 16, 2011 board of commissioners meeting. McClary delivered her annual treasurer's report during the meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

Ronnie Peterson started that debate by advocating for holding the board’s budget retreats and administrative briefings at the boardroom table, where they can be televised. The meetings are open to the public, but are more informal and not available on Community Television Network or online webcasts. The ensuing discussion revealed different perspectives on what kind of environments are most conducive to deliberations. At one point, board chair Conan Smith – who opposed a change of venue – argued that deliberations aren’t subject to the state’s Open Meetings Act. The county’s attorney, Curtis Hedger, advised the board that, in fact, deliberations do need to occur in open meetings, with limited exceptions allowed in closed sessions.

After roughly 90 minutes of debate, the board voted – with Smith dissenting – to hold future budget retreats in the boardroom following their bi-weekly working sessions. The retreats will be televised. An effort to relocate and televise administrative briefings failed, however, with support only from Peterson, Kristin Judge and Wes Prater.

In other business, the board appointed three staff members to a review committee that’s part of a new coordinated effort for funding human services nonprofits in the county. During a presentation by Mary Jo Callan – head of the office of community development, which is overseeing this process – Peterson expressed concern that smaller, community-based nonprofits will be unable to compete in this new system. Callan assured him that she understood his concerns, but felt that this new model could actually be better for those nonprofits. She noted that the board would ultimately control funding decisions for county dollars.

Catherine McClary, the county treasurer, delivered her annual treasurer’s report, giving an update on the county’s investment portfolio, delinquent taxes and foreclosures. She reported that the amount of residential tax foreclosures appears to be stabilizing, but foreclosures of commercial property are on the rise, especially for parcels of vacant, undeveloped land. Separately, the board approved the treasurer’s annual request to borrow funds – up to $50 million this year – to temporarily cover delinquent taxes in the county’s 80 taxing jurisdictions. Last year, there was about $29 million in delinquent taxes, and McClary expects a small increase this year.

McClary also told commissioners that later this year she’ll be asking them to approve a civil infractions ordinance for dog licenses, as part of a stepped-up enforcement effort. Right now, not having a license is a criminal misdemeanor of 90 days in jail or a $500 fine.

During Wednesday’s meeting commissioners also delivered several liaison reports, including news that the Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission had approved $600,000 for the Connecting Communities trail program. Part of those funds will support a project that will eventually link Saline and Ann Arbor through a non-motorized pathway. The commission also authorized $250,000 to build a boathouse and fishing dock at Ford Lake, in partnership with the state and Eastern Michigan University. [Full Story]

AATA Board Treasurer: Where’s My Report?

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board meeting (Feb. 17, 2010): Although little business was transacted by the board during Wednesday’s meeting, members engaged in what David Nacht called a “healthy conversation” on the subject of the treasurer’s report. At issue was whether the agenda should contain a slot for the report.

Ted Annis Jesse Bernstein

At left: Ted Annis, AATA board treasurer, and board member Jesse Bernstein, right. (Photos by the writer.)

The discussion began with a gentle ribbing of the board’s treasurer, Ted Annis, who was asked: “Have your feelings been hurt?” It ended, however, with a serious philosophical discussion about the difference between a body consisting of appointed board members compared to one composed of elected officials.

Over the next few months, the board will begin a conversation in earnest to change its meeting location to the Ann Arbor District Library and its time to Thursday evenings.

A development not explicitly discussed at the board meeting, but nonetheless connected to it, is the fact that the AATA will begin providing board packets in their native digital text – until now, the documents have been available in electronic form, but only as image scans. [Full Story]