Sorry this blog is a little late this week. I had a very busy week. With the campaign now going full steam, I have been busy many nights. I am committed to fulfilling my responsibility as a Commissioner, as I always have, so that means going to county meetings and going to community meetings throughout Lansing and Lansing Township. It's busy! But...I want to keep this blog going to inform constituents, future constituents, media, and others about what is going on at the County!
Last week I had two meetings. I had Human Services and a full county commission meeting. Human Services reviewed the same controversial resolution that County Services had the week before - the creation of a Dental Director. This time, Health Director Renee Canady attended and had some good answers. Again, I asked about the need for a position shift so early in the budget process. I was told that this is part of an ongoing review of the positions and that, with a new Director, it was just missed at the end of last year. In addition, Commissioners Tennis and McGrain argued that the budget process began in May last year, so there has really been several months between the budget and this new position creation. While I believe the Health Department could have adjusted their budget request at any time until November, I concede that it is a little longer than I had originally thought. And, I understand that a new Director needs to evaluate positions and this may not have been as easy to do in a transition year. So I am comfortable with that answer. I also again asked why it was moving from a 14 to a 15 level position. Again, fellow commissioners on the committee argued that this is a leadership role and needs to be compensated as such. Dr. Canady actually told us that they created the new position, with 32 hours for dentistry and 8 hours for administration, and submitted that to the county human resources. Our HR department scored the position and moved it to a 15 from a 14. So, I look forward to seeing the scoring next week. After reviewing that, I believe I will be comfortable with this position. My hope, though, is that it is filled and we can start helping people and seeing revenue. If we simply move someone up internally and cannot fill the open dentistry position, then we really will not have created any more service or revenue and will be paying more. I will make that clear, but expect to support this in committee a week from Monday (human services) and a week from Tuesday (county services). Other interesting information that we found out which was not presented in County Services is that in 2005, there were 14 dental staff and in 2010 there were 22 dental staff. Five years ago, we had 3500 users in the community that had 12,000 visits. Currently, we are at 7500 users and 16,000 visits. Se we are clearly providing more service to those in need in Ingham County.
The Board of Commissioners meeting was fairly non-controversial. All items were passed on the consent agenda except for an honorary resolution and the Resolution Authorizing Reimbursement Terms and Conditions to the Potter Park Zoological Society for the Interim Zoo Director Services. Last year, the Board approved a resolution authorizing a contract amendment with the Potter Park Zoological Society to appoint Sherrie Graham as the Interim Zoo Director. Our staff negotiated mutually agreeable terms and conditions of compensation including County reimbursement to the Society for the portion of the personnel costs for the period after January 18, 2012. The negotiated rate is $4,000 per month throughout the agreement duration. This resolution passed 13-1 with no discussion. Commissioner Dougan was the only opposition vote and did not explain his objection. Commissioners Vickers and Schafer were absent.
While we consented many resolutions, I wanted to specifically mention on eof them which will greatly assist neighborhoods in Lansing. Ingham County has a strong and successful history of implementing community summits and cultivating citizen ownership of efforts that expand and enhance opportunities for urban redevelopment. The Ingham County Health Department (ICHD), in partnership with the Power of We Consortium (PWC), has been responsible for carrying out efforts in support of the County’s priority to “Promote Environmental Protection and Smart Growth.” Specifically, ICHD and PWC have established a mechanism to allocate the Urban Redevelopment Funds in the amount of $35,000 which was established as part of the Health Department budget. This amount has remained unchanged since 2010. This important investment of $35,000 has been used to leverage millions of dollars in federal grants (Compassion Capital Fund) and thousands of volunteer service hours (AmeriCorps) towards making our neighborhoods more attractive, vital, and responsive to our residents. Utilization of these funds has included activities such as completion of the walking trail on the south side of Lansing; match for the PWC’s Capacity Building Program for community and faith-based organizations and for the AmeriCorps program; support for the Ingham Change Initiative’s Summer Youth Program for young men of color; and support for neighborhood community organizing. For 2012, the ICHD, in partnership with the PWC, has chosen to continue its support for the 2011 grant recipients in an effort to provide greater impact for these critical initiatives:
• Allen Neighborhood Center ($15,000) to expand its Restoration Works project to include, in addition to a focus on residential restoration, the conversion of a functionally obsolete urban warehouse to a Food Resource Center (FRC). Urban Redevelopment funds will support engaging partners and community members in helping to co-create these structures—whether houses or the FRC.
• South Lansing Community Development Association ($15,000) to utilize community forums, visioning sessions, surveys, market studies etc. in the revitalization of key neighborhoods in south Lansing, particularly Colonial Village and Jolly/Waverly area. The County Board of Commissioners supported these efforts and I was proud to vote in favor of this resolution!
Next week we do not have any regularly scheduled meetings (because this month is a unique month with a fifth week). We do have a Special County Services meeting, though, to discuss employee contract negotiations and compensation. I expect that part of the meeting will be public and part will be in closed session, but I am not wholly sure how the meeting will go. I expect our Committee Chair and Board Chair have an idea of what we will be talking about in committee, and I look forward to moving this forward and finally finalizing negotiations with our employees so we can avoid mediation and so our wonderful employees can have a contract in place.