Wednesday, July 20, 2011

County to Maintain City of Lansing Parks, Hawk Island Tubing Hill, 911 Center, County Budget

After taking a week off, the Schor County blog is back.

In County Services and Finance, we finalized the resolution to take over maintenance of many of the City of Lansing Parks. The City has not been able to afford to mow or maintain several parks. They approached the County and asked us to maintain and mow the lawn. Our Parks Director gave an estimate on the amount that it will take to do this, and a contract was negotiated. Once all the issues that were raised by the County Commissioners were resolved, this was brought back to us for our consideration. All of the changes we requested were adopted, and the resolution passed both committees. We also added a provision that the City has until November 1 to sign the contract. We do not want to have this hanging out for a while, as was done with the dog park and zoo. One commissioner opposed this in County Services (Dragonetti) and one in Finance (Dougan). Both indicated that they thought that this would lead to the City expecting us to do more things for them. After changes were made, I was happy to vote for this as a good regional effort. Ingham County is very efficient and well run, and we can ensure that these parks are mowed and maintained. As such, we are stepping up by accepting the request of the City of Lansing.

The parks included are:
5 acres or under:
Barb Dean, Bassett, Bluebell, Everett, Glen Eden, Hillsdale, Holly, Horsebrook, Jones, Lake, Kay North, Marscot H. Moore, Osborne, Regent, Reutter, Seventh, Stabler, Tammany, Walsh, Waldo, Caesar Donora, Greencroft, Parcel B, Hull Court, Wilson

Parks on the river trail:
Dietrich, Edmore, Dodge, Burchard-East, Burchard-West, Wentworth, Cherry Hill, Kalamazoo Plaza, Cooley, Scott Center, Crego, Trager, Elm, River Point, Maguire

We also passed a resolution adjusting the budget for the Hawk Island snow tubing hill. This was a project that was started about 6 years ago, and is now being finalized. Unfortunately, there were several expenses that have risen and need to be paid for. Although we got the dirt for free, we need to purchase the snow making machine and lifts. Also, the City of Lansing has a very expensive Soil Erosion Permit. Our staff had hoped that the City would reduce the price for the permit or allow us to have our own Drain Commissioner certify the soil erosion issues, but the City would not agree to that. Fortunately, our excellent Parks staff was able to find the dollars to pay for these final pieces. We unanimously approved transfers of $62,558. This will make the total budget of the project a maximum of $289,548 but could be $12,000 less if we are able to get a cheaper lift. We also expect the snow boarding portion to have equipment donated to reduce the cost. The transferred money comes from the Parks Capital Improvement fund and was previously budgeted, so there is no new general fund dollars to be used.

We once again had to consider the 911 consolidated center. If you are a faithful reader of this blog (and I know you are!), then you know that we combined the Lansing and East Lansing 911 centers and are about to break ground on a new center. Well, the bids for the new center were expected to come in a little higher than expected (about $800,000 higher). Staff went to work and revised the bid documents and we now expect the cost overrun to be about $200,000 higher. Staff asked for us to approve a $400,000, just in case the bids are higher than expected. I was not interested in approving double the amount needed, so I offered an amendment in County Services to allow a transfer of $200,000 and the ability of staff to approve up to another $200,000 if the Controller and Board Chair approve. I would have required staff to come back to the Board, but that could push back breaking ground into the winter and there are many more costs associated with building in the winter. I was comfortable with the Board chair and Controller reviewing anything over $200,000 and approving what may be necessary. My amendment passed in County Services, and was further amended in Finance to ensure that all Commissioners receive notice of anything over $200,000.

In Finance, we approved a resolution accepting a Child & Adolescent Health Center grant award from the Michigan Department of Community Health to continue funding Willow Health Center, Otto Health Center and the School Wellness Program at Gardner Middle School. The Health Department also proposed the addition of a new school-based health center at a high school in the Lansing School District, and the Michigan Department of Community Health awarded the grant for the maximum award period of five years. These awards will provide a total of $3.4 million over five years. One hundred thousand per year will support the continued operations of the School Wellness Program at Gardner Middle School; $175,000 per year will support the continued operations at Otto Community Health Center; $225,000 will support the continued operations at Willow Health Center, and $175,000 will start a new school-based health center and fund its operations at a Lansing School District High School. These awards will fund seven new positions, which are essential to the operations of these Health Centers. As a condition of these awards, the Health Department is required to establish a local community advisory committee. The advisory committee must be representative of the community and include a
broad range of stakeholders and school staff. One-third of the committee members must be parents of school-aged youth. The committee must approve certain policies related to the health center. In order to establish and maintain this required committee, the ICHD proposes to enter into an agreement with the School-Community Health Alliance of Michigan (SCHA-MI). SCHA-MI will provide support and assist in parent and youth engagement to the committee as required. The budgeted amount for this agreement will not exceed $25,000. Both County Services and Finance approved these unanimously, and in Finance we learned that if a school closes, the money can go to another school.

In Finance, we also went over our annual county audit, our general fund reserves, our Budget Stabilization Plan, and the upcoming budget deficit of $5.5 million. Our Controller will be coming up with recommended possibilities that she will present to us to consider to close the budget hole. Because this is already long enough, I will report on this in a future blog.

I hope everyone is staying cool! And don't forget to visit my Andy Schor for State Representative page at and to check out my facebook fan page at !


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