Thursday, December 13, 2012

Schor Blog: Detective Position and 2013 Budget, Land Bank Properties, Goodbye to 5 Commissioners

This is it. My final blog as an Ingham County Commissioner. It is a little weird. I am excited to go to the House of Representatives and fight for important issues on a statewide basis (which has taken on a whole new meaning this week!) but I will definitely miss the issues and people on the County Board of Commissioners!

But I will get to that in a minute. First, the final issues that we dealt with at the last meeting of 2012. We started off reconsidering a resolution from last meeting dealing with a detective position at the Sheriff's office. This was a position that didn't survive the budget for 2013, and one of the Commissioner's decided to move to retain the position and take the money out of contingency for 2013. As a reminder, contingency is our reserve for emergencies. The resolution had passed at the last meeting, but there was a lot of confusion about it. So it was reconsidered on a 13-3 vote. During debate, it was brought up that neither the Sheriff nor the Prosecutor asked for this position to be restored. Taking this money from contingency would start the commission off in a nice sized hole, along with the money that will have to be found to make up the jail medical (where we are not getting the savings we expected). Budgeting is about priorities, and this just didn't make the cut. Instead, we kept a jail post open. When the resolution was reconsidered, a compromise was offered by Commissioner Rebecca Bahar-Cook to take $20,000 from the Sheriff's Drug Forfeiture funds to pay for the first few months of 2013 for this position. At that time, a retirement will allow for the detective to be moved. The position would still be removed, but the person would not be laid off. The supporters said it would be a good compromise because it would not impact the budget before the year even starts and would prevent a layoff. The opponents said that the position is necessary for the sheriff and county, and this would further cut public safety. This amendment passed 13-3 on a bi-partisan vote, then the resolution passed 14-2.

The second resolution that was pulled for discussion was the resolution moving about 300 properties to the Land Bank. Commissioner Vickers asked what properties were being transferred, and Treasurer Schertzing said there were about 186 Lansing properties adn about 100 Leslie properties. Vickers then asked how many properties the Land Bank has and the answer was that it is about 1,000 and about 37 were sold and put back on the tax rolls this year. Finally, Vickers asked how much is left in the revolving loan fund for these properties, and the answer was about $1.5 million. The resolution then passed 13-3.

While not controversial, it is important to note that we did approve two resolutions that settled contacts with our employees. We settled with the Teamsters Local 580 for the 911 Supervisors and we settled with the FOP 911 non-supervisory. We went through the details of these contracts in the County Services committee, and it is exciting to know that these contracts are starting to be worked out with employees. While a year overdue, it is good to see settlement.

After these resolutions, we said goodbye to the commissioners that were leaving. I was one of them, and I will put up my speech in a separate blog. The other commissioners leaving were: Commissioner Dale Copedge, Commissioner Steve Dougan, Commissioner Vince Dragonette, and Commissioner Mark Grebner. Grebner had been on the Board for 35 years and has been an institution of knowledge. He received just the second ever resolution of honor passed by the County Board Commissioners (the other was Grady Porter). The rest of us received very cool plaques showing our service to the County. It was very light and there were lots of laughs and stories. It was nice, and a bit sad. But there was also a lot of optimism for the future and excitement to welcome Commissioners Sarah Anthony, Kara Hope, and Randy Maiville. They will do wonderful work for the County.

So, thanks for reading this blog for the last few years. And thanks for all your support over the last 10 years. I will continue to blog and update all my constituents as a State Representative starting in January. Swearing in is January 9th (according to the Constitution) but I will be in my office doing the work of the people on January 2nd. Please feel free to call or email any time. Thanks everyone for everything, and have a wonderful holiday season!

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