This week we had a very busy week. In County Services and Human Services, we took up a resolution to realign the administrative structure of the Health Department. Under former director Dr. Dean Sienko, we were in a unique situation where three positions were combined as one because Dr. Sienko could act as the Health Officer, Chief Medical Officer, and Health Department Director. The proposal is to go back to the old system of having three positions as required by law. We already have a Health Director, so it creates the other two positions. Because that would be a high budget impact on the county, the Health Director (Dr. Renee Canady) crafted a proposal to restructure much of the department. She was able to eliminate some management positions and combine positions to achieve significant savings for the county. When considered a few weeks ago, there was confusion in the numbers, but this week it was all made more clear. The realignment will result in the elimination of a total of five managerial positions, the establishment of one new managerial position, and the reallocation of managerial duties across existing staff. Positions proposed for elimination involve vacancies, thus avoiding negative effects to any incumbent employees. The proposal creates $24,836 in cost savings and creates additional provider capacity to serve clients in the Community Health Center Network, which in turn, will generate addition revenue for the department.
An issue that came up late dealt with the the contract between the county and the City of Lansing regarding mowing certain city parks. As you may recall, last year the County agreed to mow certain parks and the City would compensate. At the time, I had asked whether this contract would result in layoffs at the City. We were told that this would not create such a situation and the employees would be moved to other City operations. This week, we learned that the City announced that it would not bring back many of the seasonal employees that were laid off at the end of last season (they are laid off at the end of the summer and re-hired at the beginning). There were claims that this was due, in part, to the contract with the County. We added this as a discussion item to the County Services agenda and considered the possibiity of ending the contract with the City (we have to give 30 days notice). We were told by the UAW president that the layoffs are happening as a result of mowing. They said that there are 39 employees out of work, and some of these are due to contract between city and county. The UAW has submitted a proposal to the City to have their employees hired back. The City apparently has agreed not to privatize the services and that will bring back 17 of the employees.
The City was not represented at the committee meeting, as this was a late item and they could not have anyone there. Our county staff spoke with city staff and relayed to the committee the City's contention that the layoffs were normal and just would not be recalled. There were questions about what happens to the equipment that the county purchased for the mowing. It seems that if the contract is broken, the City doesn't have to buy the equipment back and the County would own it. If the contact goes to term but is not renewed, the City would have to purchase the equipment. I also asked questions about what happens to the parks if the contract is broken. I had previously heard that the contract would be part of the privatized contract. The UAW member indicated that because there will be no privatizations, breaking the contract will result in UAW employees being recalled for the work and the parks will still be mowed. Also, it was rasied that the City may have violated their contract with the UAW, which says that no employee can be displaced by a subcontracted employee. The UAW may go to arbitration on this.
Because most of the questions are for the City, it was moved that the City be requested to have someone at the next County Services meeting to answer the questions that were for them. Hopefully, someone will be able to attend.
In the Human Services Committee, we passed a resolution asking the state Department of Community Health to allow for the integration of the management of this region’s public substance abuse disorder prevention and treatment services (currently carried out by the Mid South Substance Abuse Commission) into the operations of the Community Mental Health Authority of Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham Counties. CMH would become the Coordinating Agency for administering Substance Use Disorder services, effective October 1, 2012. We had a good discussion about substance abuse services and how Mid South and CMH are ahead of the curve in initiating this merger. The Legislature is considering legislation to require these mergers, and our agencies are getting in front of the coming legislation by working on this now and making sure it is done right.
On the political front, the campaign continues to go very well. I am having tremendous response with voters and have picked up a few more endorsements. And fundraising continues to go very well! The field in the Democratic Primary is now more crowded, and we will be ramping up opportunities for volunteers. Please go to www.andyschor.com and sign up to volunteer or to contribute to the campaign. August 7th is just four months away, and is coming fast! Thanks everyone for all your support!