This week has been a very tough week for many friends. The accident in Holt has had a tremendous affect on our family. Our friend lost her son in that tragic accident, and another friend lost her niece. Our hearts go out to them. In addition, the Mayor of the City of Leslie passed away after being sick for many years and I send my condolences to his family and the community of Leslie. Finally, my constituent and friend Ann Spencer, the Treasurer of the Old Everett Neighborhood Network, passed away this week and it is a tremendous loss for our community.
On to county business. If you read my blog regularly (which of course you do!), you know that there recently have been several occasions of county entities suing the county (road commission, judge). As a result, multiple legal fees and other expenses were incurred at the expense of the Ingham County taxpayers without the county Board being consulted first.
I announced last year that I would be proposing a policy that requires that the County Board be notified before anyone takes legal action against the county. That resolution went before County Service and Finance this week. The resolution adopts the following procedures to be used in the event it is inevitable for one Ingham County entity to sue another:
1) An Ingham County entity must exhaust all efforts to resolve an issue with another Ingham County entity prior to initiating any formal legal proceedings or lawsuits.
2) Funds for outside Counsel shall not be incurred or expended without prior approval of the Board of Commissioners.
3) In emergency situations, Board Leadership and the Controller/Administrator are authorized to approve legal expenditures as long as the Liaison Committee, County Services and Finance Committees are notified immediately.
4) In the event the County incurs a financial obligation, the Board of Commissioners will determine the appropriate funding source, including but not limited to either parties’ existing County budget or the Contingency Fund.
5)Entities must first consider the possibility of utilizing counsel from an adjacent governmental unit.
In Finance, we added language recognizing that elected county officers in conflict must receive representation from the county (according to state law) if they have civil suits and the county attorney or prosecutor can't represent them. We added language that I wanted, though, that specified that these county elected officers must first consult with the Board of Commissioners to determine the amount of compensation for any outside counsel and to ensure that all other avenues have been exhausted. This policy passed both committees unanimously.
We also finalized how the Soldan Dog Park will be policed, and how the people and dogs will be protected. The Soldan Dog Park, a City of Lansing Dog Park, is located within the City of Lansing’s Scott Woods Park, with entrances through both Scott Woods Park and Hawk Island County Park.
The City of Lansing and the County and the Friends of the Dog Park will all have signed an agreement (if the County Board passes this on Tuesday) offered by the Soldan Dog Park Task Force requiring the installation of an electronic entry gate system at the dog park with an associated user fee to cover costs. Implementation of an electronic entry gate system will help regulate the safety of dog park users through the verification of licensure and vaccinations of dogs and reduce the need to staff volunteers to “police” the dog park.
The Ingham County Parks and Recreation Commission supported this project with the passage of Resolution #32-10 at their August 23, 2010 meeting. This resolution authorizes the acceptance by the county Parks Department of a $2,300 donation from the Friends of Greater Lansing Dog Parks Friends and a $2,300 contribution from the City of Lansing to be used for the purchase and installation of an electronic gate system at the Soldan Dog Park. The County will also add $2,630 from the Parks budget for the Soldan Dog Park Electronic Gate System project. Previously, the proposal was for a $40 annual fee. I successfully had an amendment passed that would reduce these fees to $30 annually, and this language remained in the proopsal. In addition, the annual fee will be $15 for Students, Seniors, and Veterans. It will be $5 for a One Day Pass, and $5 for FOB Replacement.
Finally, the resolution cements the agreement between the County and the City for the operation of portions of Scott Woods Park and the River Trail. The county will maintain the non-motorized pathway through Scott Woods Park, Soldan Dog Park, and the Lansing River Trail from Potter Park to Maguire Park. Security will be provided by Lansing via 911 calls for emergencies. These complaints will then be relayed to the county who will shut off the key fobs of the offenders. In addition, there will be a phone number on the key fob that will go directly to the county.
This resolution passed unanimously.
Because the Finance Committee was snowed out and was rescheduled for today (Thursday), I am going to quit now as it is 11 pm.