Thursday, September 22, 2011

Housing Commission, Ingham County Takes Over Lansing Parks, CATA Special Millage, Campaign Update

This week I had both County Services and Finance committees. In both committees, we spent significant time talking about the Ingham County Housing Commission. For the first time, they were short for a year and requested general fund dollars ($40,000) to backfill the deficit. I had concerns about this, especially because the Housing Commission does projects in Grand Ledge and Eaton Rapids (both outside the county). We had a good discussion. The Director of the Housing Commission explained that in other counties, the county government puts in money to their Housing Commision in addition to the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money that they receive from the Michigan State Housing and Development Authority (MSHDA). Apparently, Ingham County is one of the few Housing Commissions that is able to self-fund their staff – one full-time person and a half-time person. We are able to do this because we charge an administrative fee for all projects. The Housing Commisison expected to once again make enough through administrative fees, but had a last minute bank loan fall through for a housing project that they were assisting (due to an accident that happened to the individual that applied) and we were unable to recover the administrative fee for that project. They also explained that the projects in Grand Ledge and Eaton Rapids help to ensure that county general funds are not needed. If they don’t do those projects, the county would have to put in money. That explanation satisfied us, along with the commitment from the Housing Commission that they are wodking on a plan to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. Commissioner Grebner also suggested that they build contingencies into their budget. The resolution passed County Services and Finance unanimously.

We also passed several Parks resolutions. One resolution finalizes the deal between the City of Lansing and Ingham County for the county to take over mowing and plowing a series of city parks (as previously reported). We added Reola, Kimberly and Sunset parks to the list we will maintain, and removed Wentworth Park, the Gardens at Cooley and Parcel B from the list. The final number of parks is the same, and it will still be $236,000 that the City will pay the County for the maintenance. The contract will go from October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2011 and can be renewed yearly with new compensation amounts. We also created rental fees for the disc golf at Burchfield Park ($1 rental). Now residents can play horseshoes, volleyball, pedal boats, and disc golf in the summer. We also created discounted fees (half) for service dogs at the Soldan Dog Park at Hawk Island.

Finally, we allocated the dollars to CATA from the special transportation millage. The County Board of Commissioners controls the allocation and distribution of the funds for CATA. The Ingham County Special Transportation Millage was reauthorized at 48/100 (.48) of one mill, $.48 per thousand dollars of state taxable valuation for a period of five years (2011-2015) in the August 3, 2010 election. Under the agreement, CATA will continue to utilize special transportation millage funds to operate service for persons with disabilities, known as CATA Spec-Tran. It will also provide CATA Rural Services (CRS), providing a minimum of 79 hours per day of service to the residents of Ingham County who reside outside of the boundaries of the urbanized area. A maximum of $2,590,451 will be used to pay the actual expenses of operating, administrating and marketing Spec-Tran. A maximum of $625,000 of the funds will be used to pay for the actual expenses of operating, administering and marketing CATA Rural Services. The amount of $108,436 will be retained by the County for the operation of a vehicle used to transport area veterans to VA Hospitals in the region in the County’s 2012 Fiscal Year.

On the Andy Schor for State Representative campaign trail, we are now over 600 doors knocked, several neighborhood associations attended where I have spoken with residents, and have raised over $40,000. I will be holding a fundraiser on Monday in Oak Park. If you are in the area, I hope you will be able to attend. You can see all the details, and sign up to contribute or volunteer, at!

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