After taking a week off, the County Blog is back! Last week, the Board had nothing controversial and all of the committee work led to unanimous resolutions on the Board floor. It was nice.
This week, we had lots of things in County Services and Finance committees. The Prosecutor presented us with the second part of his reorganization. Prosecutor Dunnings is shifting resources and saving the county money by streamlining services. This reorganization was unanimous in both committees. The Treasurer also presented the committees with a reorganization. Treasurer Schertzing identified a need to reorganize. His reorganization will streamline processes and allow the office to better manage the Land Bank’s increased volume and inventory. It will have zero impact on General Fund money, as the positions are funded by the Land Bank Authority, Brownfield Authority and the Tax Revolving Fund. The Land Bank Coordinator position will, among other things, coordinate all post-foreclosure aspects of the law, including vacating occupied structures, local government action, public auctions and property title transfers, and ensuring statutory compliance at all times. This position also maintains the financial records for the Land Bank, and facilitates termination of legal property rights for delinquent land contract purchasers and renters. The Brownfield Coordinator maintains financial and development records for all Brownfield Plans, Land Bank projects and assists in planning and renovation of development sites. This resolution passed with all Commissioners supporting except Commissioner Dragonetti.
In an interesting resolution on the Zoo, we approved funding from the zoo millage for a renovation. Currently, the Potter Park Zookeeper staff must shift the big cats from one area to another to perform general cleaning, care, and training. To complete these tasks staff uses an outdated, manual, cable and pulley shift door system from the 1980s. The existing doors frequently require costly repairs due to failure and are a safety issue for the keeper staff and the animals. The resolution authorized funding the Feline House Shift Door Replacement in the amount of $65,000 from the Zoo millage. This resolution provides a level of safety needed for employees and animals. All Commissioners except Commissioner Vickers voted for the resolution.
Finally, the most controversial resolution. Late last year, I reported that the County Commission was considering a pollution prevention resolution. The Health Department requested consideration of this resolution to create regulations for toxic and hazardous substances used in Ingham County, help to assure that chemicals are stored appropriately, and ensure that proper pollution mitigation strategies are being implemented. The information collected from this regulation would be used for for emergency and disaster response, and for pollution prevention and groundwater protection. Finally, it would move pollution prevention efforts from a voluntary system supported through County general funds to a regulation that would be cost-shared by the County and the businesses being regulated. Currently, the Health Department employs three environmental health professionals who deliver the services needed to implement the field compliance portion of this proposed regulation. The business community expressed opposition to this regulation. They said that they are already regulated, that this is an expansion of the program, and that the high costs are unnecessary.
The resolution passed 4-2. I voted against this regulation because I believe that it does, in fact, create a new regulatory burden and I am not convinced this is the right time. I am very supportive of our existing efforts and support continuing those efforts, but don't support going from voluntary to mandatory for certain businesses who don't currently have to follow these regulations. I believe that it is an increased burden. I also opposed the fee resolution (which also passed 4-2), which sets the fees at 75% for the business and 25% for the county. Personally, I think that the fees should be phased in over a series of years and should start at 50/50. I will continue to talk to both experts on environmental pollution mitigation and to the business community before the full Board vote on Tuesday, but will remain an opposition vote until I believe that my concerns are addressed. I have great respect and thanks for all the hard work of the members of the county Human Services committee...I just happen to disagree on this one. It happens.
In personal news, you may have heard that I have formed an exploratory committee to run for the State House of Representatives. It has been a whirlwind few months of talking to community leaders and constituents, and I am ready to test the waters. You can read my note to supporters and friends at www.andyschor.com for my reasoning behind taking my first steps into this exciting new adventure. Thanks to everyone who I have talked to, and to everyone who who has met with me and been open and honest with their advice and intentions! Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (517) 618-1666 if you wish to discuss the campaign.
Have a great week!