Sunday, May 22, 2011

Parks Money to GF, Snowboard Hill, CATA Stop, 457 Plans, Masonic Lodge

So sorry that this is so late! This is the blog from last week. Technical problems stopped this from going out last week...

Last week, we considered two resolutions returning money to the general fund. Imagine being returned for not being used by one of our departments! The first resolution returned $62,500 that had been approved for the Heart of Michigan trail funding in the 2008 Capital Improvement Budget. Delhi Township opted to become the project leader on the Jolly Road to Hope Soccer Complex trail segment and an alternative route was plotted for this segment which did not include the use of Ingham County funds as a part of the alternate route project budget.

Also as part of this resolution, we approved an expenditure for a snowboarding hill (mentioned previously). In March a representative of Landscape Architects and Planners, a member of the community, and a representative of Modern Skate & Surf approached the Parks & Recreation Commission with a proposal to incorporate a snowboard hill that would meet the current trends associated with this winter sport in conjunction with the current snow tubing hill being constructed. It has been determined a beginner, intermediate, and advanced snow board run with a tow rope system could be incorporated into the snow tubing hill for approximately $35,000. It is anticipated donations for such “tricks” as such as grind rails, fun boxes, flat rails, round rails, and hips would be sought and not included in the cos0t of construction. This proposal was approved by the Parks & Recreation Commission. It is expected the costs of construction will be recouped as this would be a revenue generating activity. Both the snowboard hill and snow tubing hill could be open most of the winter season as snowmaking equipment will be used to manufacture snow.

In the County Services committee, this resolution passed 5-1. One Commissioner, Don Vickers, expressed that he wants the Parks Department to repay the county dollars that are expended in order to support this. He put up an amendment in committee to require repayment over 7 years, and it failed 2-4. I expect that his amendment will be offered again on the Board floor. During debate, I pointed out that 3 years is a very conservative estimate for total return of the dollars as this only takes into account user fees and doesn't count parking fees. I also argued that this is a quality of life resource that will be invaluable for Ingham County, and will be a revenue generator quickly. Our Parks Director, Willis Bennett, ensured us that there will be full time staff on site (and seasonal staff) at all times for safety and for maintenance of the equipment (tow ropes, snow machines, etc). Commissioner Grebner argued that the goal of having Hawk Island is to provide recreation for the center of population of the county by being in the heart of the county in Lansing. He also said that, despite objections from the Republicans, this has been highly successful. The intention is not to be a revenue generator, but to be a recreational facility and payback should not be a prime consideration.

In Finance, the resolution passed unanimously. Commissioner Tsernoglou pointed out that she hopes that MSU (snowboarding clubs) will collaborate with us on this. Deb Nolan also said that she hopes it will draw MSU students to Lansing and maybe to the zoo.

Oh, and during the discussion it was pointed out that CATA will be adding a bus stop within Hawk Island this year. That will ensure the snow tubing and snow board hills will be very accessible to the residents of Lansing and Ingham County. It also will be welcome to the young campers of EC3, who take the bus to Hawk Island and use to have to walk to the park and back to the bus stop (my son would be exhausted on Fridays!).

We also had a good discusision in Finance about the county 457 plan (deferred compensation plan) offered for employees. Although we approved three plan, only two are actually providing plans. There was discussion about the possibility of Jackson National providing insurance. We also said we would review any RFP's that precluded Jackson National or anyone else.

Finally, we considered a resolution to update the county fees. I went through this last week in detail. Commissioner Dougan opposed the point of sale fees in Finance. Other than that, this was fairly non-controversial.

In other news, I have a constituent who is very involved with trying to save the Lansing Masonic Temple. I am not a Mason myself, but I wanted to help him spread the word. Anyone interested in supporting this effort can send donations anywhere from $100 - $1000 (which is the max for the donation to remain tax deductible). Checks would need to be made out to Lansing Masonic Temple Association, and sent to 1125 Weber Dr, Lansing Michigan 48912.

Sorry again for the delay. You will hear from me again later this week after our Board meeting!

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