Washtenaw County Commissioners

Washtenaw County
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Communities across Michigan struggle with homeless individuals, but Washtenaw County officials are dealing with an extra problem.


Washtenaw County
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Studies show more than twice as much money stays in a local economy when spent at local businesses rather than outside firms.  Washtenaw County spent $47 million on contracts in 2012 and county officials want to boost the amount staying in the area.  The County Commissioners Ways and Means Committee tonight considers a local vendor preference purchasing policy.


Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

An act passed by the Michigan Legislature in 1909 to keep roads safe for Model T's could lead to a smoother ride for motorists in Washtenaw County next year.  It's back to the future for the latest effort to improve the quality of local roads.


Pothole
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Washtenaw County like most places in Michigan has plenty of roads that need work, particularly after the harsh winter we had this year.  The Washtenaw County Commissioners have opted to form a committee to study options for fixing the roads rather than levy a .4 mill tax in December.

    
Barack Obama
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

The Washtenaw County Commissioners will enter the minimum wage debate tonight as they consider a resolution supporting an increase.


Washtenaw County’s approximately 60,000 residents on Medicaid or without any dental insurance will have a source for dental work starting next year.  The Washtenaw County Commissioners Wednesday night approved plans for a Public Health Department owned dental clinic. 

Washtenaw County will be engaging neighbors of the old Juvenile Center on Platt Road in Ann Arbor and other community members to determine how to redevelop the site.  The County Commissioners have given final approval to a community driven process for planning for the 13.5 acre property. 

Washtenaw County officials hope an ordinance approved last night will decrease the number of unlicensed dogs in the county.  The changes will go into place later this year after an outreach effort.

Affordable housing will likely be included in the redevelopment of Washtenaw County's old Juvenile Center on Platt Road.  

The Washtenaw County Commissioners have re-elected the same officers that led the board in 2013. 

Yousef Rabhi was unanimously voted chair of the county commissioners again Wednesday night.  Rabhi says passing a four year budget was a big accomplishment in 2013 and he expects it will give the commissioners time to work on other issues this year.

Rabhi says some of the things he wants to work on this year are efforts to make the county's procurement process more environmentally friendly and better for the local economy, and to work on improving the board and committee structure. 

Alicia Ping was re-elected as vice chair, and Felicia Brabec will again serve as chair of the ways and means committee.

The commissioners also approved their rules and regulations.  One change in board rules is resolutions that are at the regular meeting the same night they are introduced at the ways and means committee will no longer require a two-thirds majority for final approval.  County officials determined this long standing super majority requirement didn't comply with state law.

*Listen to Rabhi's comments in the audio above.

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The Washtenaw County Sheriff says if the proposed four year county budget is approved he will likely be unable to maintain current service levels if he hits budget targets.  

The County Commissioners Ways and Means Committee voted 7  to 2  for the budget last night that ranges from $103 million in 2014 to $106.5 million in 2017. 

Sheriff Jerry Clayton says he hopes his warning on possible service reductions starts a community conversation because he won't be running up overtime.  Clayton says he proposed a gradual reduction in the sheriff department returning a half-million dollars to the county annually. 

The county commissioners will have a public hearing on the budget proposal in two weeks.


Washtenaw County is increasing a tax for economic development and agriculture, but is likely also facing a lawsuit over the tax. 

The County Commissioners voted seven to one last night to levy a .07 mill public act 88 tax. 

Bill McMaster is the chair of Taxpayers United and served as director for the Headlee Amendment campaign in 1978.  McMaster says the tax is unconstitutional because it wasn't approved by voters.

County officials however say voter approval isn't needed because the act is from 1913, well before the Headlee Amendment was approved.  They say the state legislature recently reviewed Act 88 and didn't change it.