Friday, October 15, 2010

Travel Policy, Dog Park Delayed Again, Zoo Millage

Sorry for the late blog posting this week. It has been a VERY busy week for me. So here we go…

This week was a week when the full Board of Commissioners met. The only resolution that proved controversial was a resolution amending the travel policy. The current travel policy requires Commissioners to sign off on any out-of-state travel before it can happen. This has caused a problem because it can take from 2-4 weeks, and it is costing the county more money to delay travel purchases until the last minute. Staff came to the Commissioners and asked if sign-off can be given by the Controller and the Board Chair, instead of having to wait until the appreciate committee meets and can take action. The resolution also prohibited people from changing hotel or airfare without the approval of a Department head. Finally, it required people to use the Capital Region airport unless a ticket can be found for a materially lower rate at a neighboring airport (including parking and mileage).

In County Services committee, I had several questions about the approval process. I believe that the elected officials need to review these travel requests to ensure that staff are not taking unnecessary trips. I asked several questions that staff could not adequately answer. As such, I voted against this in County Services (it passed 4-2). In Finance, though, staff were able to adequately answer the questions. They proposed adding a quarterly report of staff travel so that Commissioners can see what the travel was for (the same way we see them now). It was also pointed out that Commissioners have not yet denied a travel request because these requests are vetted through the Department Director and the County Controller before going before the Commissioners. I was satisfied with these answers and voted in support in Finance, and the resolution passed unanimously.

When this was considered on the Board floor, the three Republicans voted against it. To be honest, I am not sure why. Commissioner Don Vickers remained consistent because he opposed it in County Services. I can only assume that he didn’t hear the clarifications that I heard in Finance. Commissioner Steve Dougan voted against the resolution on the Board floor after flip-flopping from his supportive vote of the resolution in Finance committee. None of the Republicans debated this or explained why they don’t want to save the county money…they just voted against it. I kind of wish they would explain why they opposed it. But it was not to be.

The often-discussed gate for the Soldan Dog Park was again put on hold. As I reported last week, the yearly fee was reduced to $30 and I was able to support this because residents can pay the same amount that they are paying now if they park in the northern Ingham Regional lot. Apparently, the City of Lansing wanted the resolution pulled because they did not have a chance to review the request. We agreed to table it for two weeks while the City reviews the resolution. Hopefully, we can be done with this in two weeks and it can move forward when the City signs the agreement.

Otherwise, the Board meeting was fairly subdued. We used the consent agenda to pass updates to our Brownfield plan to cleanup more properties, we approved the annual Health Department health services resolution, we reauthorized a position in the Clerk’s office, and a variety of other things. You can review the agenda from the meeting here.

Finally, for anyone interested, the Yes to the Potter Park Zoo millage campaign has a new website -

I hope to put together another election preview before the general election and will get that out if possible.

Have a great weekend!

1 comment:

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