This week was relatively calm, We had our Board meeting this week, and the only contentious item was the one I mentioned last week regarding the Zoo.. There was disagreement about who should be allowed to waive fees for the zoo for special days. Some wanted the Parks Commission and Zoo Board to be able to do it. Others (including me) thought that only the Board of Commissioners should have the power to reduce revenues and waive fees. Last year, the county offered free zoo entrance for moms on Mothers Day, dads on Fathers Day, and grandparents on Grandparents day. The Parks department want to continue that. The resolution in committee, though, was amended to allow the Zoo Board and Parks Commission to have general powers to waive the fee whenever they want for special days. I was ready to offer an amendment that would have changed the resolution back to only allowing for these three specific days to be free for the people celebrated (i.e. moms on Mothers Day).
Fortunately, Commissioner Debbie DeLeon came up with an excellent compromise. She crafted an amendment saying that any days designated as special free days would have to receive sign-off by the Board Chair, County Services Chair, and County Administrator. This amendment passed 11-5, then the resolution passed 15-1. I commend Commissioner for coming up with this compromise language that will ensure flexibility for the Parks Commission and Zoo Board, while at the same time ensure that elected officials and the County Administrator can monitor the purse strings effectively.
Also, in public testimony, we heard from folks who are looking to have the first urban snowboarding hill in the United States created in Ingham County at Hawk Island. We are building a sledding hill, and the snowboard hill can be built into it for low-cost. This item is expected to come up next week for discussion in committee and the week after on the Board floor. It is very exciting and will bring people and revenues to Ingham County through tourism and having this unique attraction. I expect that it will cost $35,000, but those dollars will be recaptured almost immediately as their will be used fees for the hill and rental fees for the equipment. It will be a revenue generator, attract people from all over the state, and will be something fun for the whole family for Inhgam County residents.
In other news, we received good news from Eric Schertzing, the County Treasurer, that Ingham County has mainteined the highest possible credit rating from Standard and Poor’s. Standard & Poor's Ratings Services assigned its 'SP-1+' short-term rating to Ingham County's general obligation limited tax notes series 2011. They said the rating reflects the county's:
• History of strong property tax collections;
• Very strong general creditworthiness;
• Limited-tax GO pledge; and
• Strong liquidity, including unreserved assets held in its delinquent tax revolving fund and budget stabilization fund.
They said that Despite the pressure of a contracting tax base on Ingham County's primary revenue source--property taxes--its finances remain strong and stable due to sound management practices.
We also received a Land Bank Update from Treasurer Schertzing. He reports the following exciting news about redevelopment in Ingham County through the Land Bank:
1 - Fab Acres south of REO Town. Participating in clean-up with LNC and a large group of students on May 25th-27th. The Land Bank is hosting a dumpster and cost up to $750 from our Community Development dollars with HUD homes.
2 - Eden Glen Condos. All 8 Phase I condos closed. 3 Phase II condos have purchase agreements.
3 - NSP1 - 65 houses demolished. 1 more to go and NSP1 demo is done.
4 - Sold one renovated house on Laurie Lane and bought one mortgage foreclosed house on Center Street in Old Town last week.
5 - Meetings last week about Shopping Guide Building in Mason, Lone Pine Parcel at 496 and Washington, and two commercial adjacent lots in Lansing Township.
That's all for this week. Have a wonderful weekend!