Thursday, May 27, 2010

Parks Fees, Well-Water Fees, RIP Calvin Lynch, and Campaign Update

This week was interesting for county business. First, the issues...

As I reported last week,we passed our fees resolution. This is the resolution where we set our fees for the year (2011). Most of them passed without objection. I once again raised the parks fee increase issue. The proposal was to raise the fee from $2 to $3 for a daily pass, and from $20 to $30 for a yearly pass. My argument was that we just increased the number of days that we charge from 2 days to 6 days, and we shouldn't raise the fees once again. It fell on deaf ears this time, though. Staff made the argument that the extra dollars are needed for the upcoming budget discussions. Arguments were also made that people can take the waiver if they don't want to pay the fee. While I agree that people can take the waiver, I still think they shouldn't have to. They should pay, as they want to, but should not see prices rise again so soon. I also argued that this isn't about the budget, as we haven't even started considering it yet, and I argued that the county went from collecting $100,000 to $200,000 when we went from 2 days to 6 days so we shouldn't need to raise yet another $80,000 from our parks visitors so soon. But, you win some and you lose some. This wasn't my day, and the parking fees for Hawk Island, Burchfield, Lake Lansing, and the Zoo will go up next year.

The only other fee which was challenged was the Point of Sale fee. A little with well water (and not on municipal water and sewer systems) are charged an inspection fee when the home is sold. This is to ensure that there is not leakage or contamination into the septic field that pollutes the environment. The price is usually rolled into the mortgage sale of the home. Some people (mostly realtors) opposed this policy when we created it about 5 or 6 years ago, and they continue to oppose the fees. The fee is at 100% of the cost of the program. An amendment was made to oppose the fee increase for this program, with the argument that this this fee shouldn't be increased because it increases the cost of home sales. Supporters of increasing the fee, though, said that increasing to 100% would result in the County general fund (and all citizens) subsidizing the inspection program for these few people that are selling their homes. I voted with the supporters of increasing the fee. I believe that those of us on municipal water/sewer pay lots for that service to protects the environment and public health, and those on well water should pay as well to ensure that the septic fields and environment are not polluted. This amendment failed and the fee increase passed.

You also may recall that a two weeks ago the county passed a resolution moving the community agency money to the Power of We. This was undone last night when the Board voted to reconsider the resolution. It was then sent back to committee, where we will have the discussion all over again at the committee and Board level. So stay tuned...

Finally, sad news. Two Saturdays ago, the County lost a leader. Former Commissioner and Board Chair Calvin Lynch passed away. He was only in his late 50's, but had severe cancer. I attended the funeral on Saturday and it was moving. The family and his fraternity did a wonderful job. Ingham County also passed a resolution to honor his memory, and that was presented to Calvin's lovely wife Cathy and beautiful daughter Danielle. We passed that resolution on Tuesday, and many memories were shared. Personally, I recall serving with Calvin. He was loud and obnoxious, but he was honest and very caring. I learned so much from him as leader of our Board. He did not mince words and said exactly what he thought...and provided strong leadership. I also remember he and his wife being very gracious to me and my wife when we were together at the Counties conference and many other times. The County has lost a dedicated servant, and I will miss him. Cathy and Danielle and the entire Lynch family are in my thoughts and prayers.

On the political front, you may have noticed (if you live in the Lansing area) that I have gone up with my lawn signs. Although the City doesn't allow political yard signs to go up until July 1, my opponent started putting his signs up two weeks ago. So I have responded in kind. After putting up a few signs in supporters yards, I have been inundated with requests for yard signs. I am getting them out as fast as I can (so if you requested one, I will be there shortly with the sign). I am overwhelmed with support from my district, and am very appreciative. My opponent has talked about no county issues and has attacked me every chance he could, and people are not responding well to that. I will continue to run on my record, and hope that people will support that when they go to the polls instead of the distortions of my opponent!

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