Archive for March, 2023

Large field of candidates to vie for MAC Board seats

Fourteen county commissioners from across Michigan have filed to fill five vacant board seats on the MAC Board of Directors in elections to be held at the 2023 Legislative Conference, April 24-26.

“This is the largest field of candidates we’ve had in recent memory,” said Stephan Currie, MAC’s executive director, “so it’s important that we have the best possible participation in the elections on April 25.”

The 16-member MAC Board is the association’s governing body. It meets four times per year.

Candidates for these special elections are:

Region II
  • Neil Ahrens, Emmet
  • Lauren Flynn, Grand Traverse
  • Art Jeannot, Benzie
  • Bryan Kolk, Newaygo
  • Jarris Rubingh, Antrim
Region III
  • Ryan Laylin, Cass
  • Tom Matthew, Branch
  • Tami Rey, Kalamazoo
  • Rick Shaffer, St. Joseph
Region IV
  • Irene Cahill, Ingham
  • Dwight Washington, Clinton
Region V
  • Sarah Lucido, Macomb
  • Terry Marecki, Wayne
Region VI
  • Donald O’Farrell, Iosco
Election procedures
  • Only commissioners who register for the Legislative Conference (see item below) may participate in the regional caucuses that fill these seats.
  • Regional Board seats are filled by elections in which each COUNTY gets ONE vote.
  • The caucuses will begin at 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday, April 25 in the Lansing Center. (Exact room assignments will be released immediately prior to the conference.)
  • Each candidate provided a statement of candidacy with their filing. See below. (If you are not sure which Region your county is in, please consult this list.)
  • See statements from each candidate and more details about the election by clicking here.

 

Conference will provide substantial info on opioid settlements

With counties now deep into planning on how to deploy funds from national opioid settlements, the 2023 Legislative Conference will be a great aid to county leaders interested in learning more on the subject.

On Tuesday morning, April 25, a breakout will focus on “helping counties learn about best practices on treatment and prevention. It is critical for counties to use evidence-based practices and respond to the needs of their communities, which are facing even higher rates of opioid overdose deaths since the COVID-19 pandemic began.”

In addition, Amy Dolinky, MAC’s technical adviser on opioid settlement planning, will be stationed at an “Opioids Help Desk” in the registration area to respond to inquiries from conference-goers. Among topics Dolinky can address are:

  • Understanding the opioid settlement landscape and allowable uses of funding
  • Guidance for community engagement and engaging those with lived experience and persons that use drugs
  • Assistance with community needs assessments and strategic planning efforts
  • Support in development of spending plans
  • Preparation for current and future reporting  
  • Linkage to additional resources and support

Early-bird registration (member rate of $405) continues to April 3 for the conference, the first of MAC’s two signature events for our 125th Anniversary year.

This year’s event will be April 24-26 in Lansing, with sessions at both the Radisson Hotel and the Lansing Center. The event is co-hosted by the Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council (MCMFC).

Click here to register.

Plenary sessions will feature:

  • A discussion with the Legislative “Quadrant” (the four senior officials in the House and Senate) led by MAC’s director of governmental affairs, Deena Bosworth
  • “A National Perspective on the County Landscape and Priorities” by Matt Chase, executive director of the National Association of Counties
  • A MAC Legislative Update from MAC’s Governmental Affairs staff
  • A State of MAC report from MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie
  • Remarks from MAC President Stan Ponstein of Kent County

A Legislative Reception on the evening of Tuesday, April 25, during which MAC will present its County Advocate Awards for legislative service in 2022.

See conference agenda.

For additional details on hotel rooms, registration pricing, parking and more, visit the conference page on MAC’s website.

 

Special episode delves into rising issue of lake levels across Michigan

In a special episode of Podcast 83, MAC’s Deena Bosworth discusses the rising issue of inland lake levels with a legal expert on county responsibilities for lakes.

Stacy Hissong, general counsel for the Michigan Association of County Drain Commissioners and member of the law firm of Fahey Schultz, reviews both the unique role of Michigan’s county drain commissioners and the challenges that counties face on the approximately 400 inland lakes for which they have operational responsibility.

In this episode, learn more about:

  • What officer determines the lake level on a lake that a county is responsible for
  • Techniques that are used to maintain a proper lake level
  • Challenges now confronting counties on lake control

See the full video session, originally recorded on Feb. 21, 2023, by clicking here.

Previous episodes can be seen at MAC’s YouTube Channel.

And you always can find details about Podcast 83 on the MAC website.

 

Pension grants are focus of April 6 Treasury webinar

The Michigan Department of Treasury will host the initial webinar to review the Protecting MI Pension: Michigan Local Pension Grant Program on April 6. This initial webinar will focus on the processes that local governments will use to complete and submit an application, along with the process for review and award distribution. Subsequent webinars will focus on technical aspects related to the Protecting MI Pension Grant program, as well as frequently asked questions.

Register for April 6, 2023, Webinar

Topics will include: Bureau of Local Government and School Services – Trusted Partner Model, Overview of Protecting MI Pension Grant Program, Eligibility Requirements, Grant Application Process, Program Award Distribution Process, Key Dates and Timeline, and Next Steps.

Additional information related to FAQs, program guidelines, and application materials will be available at www.Michigan.gov/MIPensionGrant no later than April 15, 2023. Please be sure to sign up for Treasury – Local Government email alerts to be notified of additional updates to this grant program and other local government notifications. 

Questions regarding the Protecting MI Pension Grant can be directed to Treasury at Treasury-MIPensionGrant@Michigan.gov.

 

Staff picks

Fourteen county commissioners from across Michigan have filed to fill five vacant board seats on the MAC Board of Directors in elections to be held at the 2023 Legislative Conference, April 24-26.

The 16-member MAC Board is the association’s governing body. It meets four times per year.

In these special elections, the following seats will be filled:

  • Region II, Seat A (would serve term to Annual Conference of 2024*)
  • Region III, Seat A (would serve term to Annual Conference of 2024*)
  • Region IV, Seat B (would serve term to Annual conference of 2026)
  • Region V, Seat B (would serve term to Annual Conference of 2024*)
  • Region VI, Seat B (would serve term to Annual Conference of 2025)

No director shall serve more than three full three-year terms, except in certain situations where a director is filling a vacancy in an unexpired term. If the elected replacement shall serve more than half of the unexpired term, it shall be considered as if such person has served one full term for purposes of term limits. If the person filling the vacancy shall serve less than half of the unexpired term, that person shall be permitted to serve up to three additional full 3-year terms. *Denotes a period of less than half of a term.

Election procedures

  1. Only commissioners who register for the Legislative Conference may participate in the regional caucuses that fill these seats.
  2. Regional Board seats are filled by elections in which each COUNTY gets ONE vote. The process is detailed in the attachments.
  3. The caucuses will begin at 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday, April 25 in the Lansing Center. (Exact room assignments will be released immediately prior to the conference.)

Each candidate provided a statement of candidacy with their filing. See below. (If you are not sure which Region your county is in, please consult this list.)

The candidates

Region 2

Neil Ahrens, Emmet County

MAC is an essential organization in support of the functioning of Michigan government in my opinion, a structure necessary for understanding the roles we all play in serving, and I have the time and capacity to serve.

As a fourth-term Emmet County commissioner, I have been instilled with the relevance and importance of MAC. My commitment to MAC is reflected in my work including serving on the Transportation and Infrastructure and the Agriculture and Tourism committees. I am proud that I have been joined by two other fellow Emmet County Commissioners to serve on MAC committees. The relationships forged with other commissioners as well as the MAC staff, has deepened my understanding of county governance.

I humbly ask for your support in my efforts to increase my service to Emmet County, and indeed, our state. Thank you all; it’s an honor to work with so many wise and caring people.

 

Lauren Flynn, Grand Traverse County

I am County Commissioner for District 2 in Grand Traverse County. Running for office has been a dream of mine since I was a young girl. Raised by politically and community involved parents and grandmothers, I always knew that the public sector had a place for me. I have lived in Grand Traverse County for 19 years. I have raised by two daughters as a single mother, and in doing so I have faced many of the issues that most of our constituents face in each of our counties on a daily basis. But I worked hard to overcome challenges, I finished my bachelor’s in business management and continued to finish my master’s degree in management. I got involved in my community and then decided to run for Commissioner in 2022.

As a new County Commissioner, I have been learning an immense amount of information every day and every week that I have been in office. I have taken this opportunity to educate myself even more on issues that face my constituents of my district and every citizen of Grand Traverse County. I have sat down with every other Commissioner on my board to introduce myself, learn more about what drives them to serve and figure out where we can come together to make Grand Traverse County the best county for people to work, raise their families and live the life they dream of. Serving in this position is the honor of my life, and I look forward to continuing this important work for years to come.

This is what brings me to throw my hat in for the Board of MAC for Region 2. I am asking the members of MAC for their vote to serve with the same grace and grit that I asked my constituents to vote for me in Grand Traverse County. I value the importance that MAC offers to our community. I look forward to working together to do more to make Michigan Counties able to their best for the citizens across the state. I promise I will serve honorably with integrity and positivity.

 

Art Jeannot, Benzie

I am in my fourth term as a Benzie County Commissioner. Included in my duties I am a member of the MAC Finance and Governance Committee for the past two years. Prior to this year, I served six years on the Northern Michigan Association of Counties. In addition, I conducted a breakout session at the 2023 new commissioner training in Roscommon at the request of MSU Extension. The subject matter was preparation for board meetings and conduct while in a board meeting.

My background has prepared me for a leadership role both in my community and at a state level. I have served in a number of leadership positions over a 30 year period to include Leadership Michigan (class of 2010), multiple EDC boards, Legislative Committee for the National Association of Mortgage Brokers and Northern Michigan Community Action Agency (Executive Committee).

My education is in business administration, with a graduate degree in banking followed by a 30 year career in that industry. The last 11 years was as President and CEO of a mid-size community bank. Since 2009, I have personally developed and own multiple housing projects targeted to low income and work force housing.

My interest in this board position is to improve my knowledge of state affairs and hopefully contribute to MAC leadership decisions. I invite you to contact me directly should you have any questions or comments.

 

Bryan Kolk, Newaygo County

I feel that I will be a particularly good candidate for this seat because of my extensive history with MAC and county government.

Involvement with MAC: I am a member of the MAC Judiciary and Public Safety committee (sixth year) and currently chair this committee. I am a member of the MAC General Government and Finance Committee (fourth year). Also, I am a Trustee for the Michigan Counties Workers’ Compensation Fund (fifth year) and on their Safety Committee (first year). I am familiar with MAC’s 2023 legislative priorities and have the privilege of working directly on the policy platforms with the above committees.

County Government: I began on the Newaygo County Board of Commissioners in 2017 and was elected in 2019 to be the Board Chair, a position in which I continue to serve. I’m proud to say that the elected officials in Newaygo County have an excellent rapport and working relationship. That is important in understanding the many nuances and how all of the different parts of government work together, which is so important as we face issues brought from other forms of government (local, state, and federal) as well as legal challenges from individuals, groups and businesses. We all have to work together in order to make the counties run well.

Other County Experience: I didn’t just happen into running for Commissioner. I did so after completing 32 years of service to Newaygo County as a Deputy Sheriff, where I held a number of different jobs within the department, all of which broadened my experience with not only the courts, dispatch and the Prosecutor’s Office but also such offices as the Clerk, Treasurer, Register of Deeds, Commission on Aging, Community Mental Health, Department of Social Services, Liquor Control Commission, the Department of Natural Resources, all 24 Townships in our County and the Michigan State Police, to name some. My biggest strength in these interactions was in my ability to see different perspectives of the same issue and then discuss and come to a reasonable conclusion.

Other Education: I hold an associate degree in criminal justice, a bachelor’s degree also in criminal justice and a master’s degree in criminal justice administration.

I will appreciate your consideration and vote at the conference.

 

Jarris Rubingh, Antrim

I represent District 2 in Antrim County. I live and work on our family dairy farm where we milk 400 registered Holstein cows twice per day. Our farm has been in the family for over 117 years. We also raise most of the feed for our cows and calves as trucking and hauling feed continues to increase in cost. We raise and fatten about 150 of our bull calves each year for beef. We grow approximately 600 acres of hay and 500 acres of corn for our cows. We keep our feed in silos and ag bags. My wife and children also help on our family farm and we have chickens, cats, and a few pigs.

I am running for the MAC Board because I want to make a difference not only locally but regionally. I feel passionate about our counties, our residents and our future. I want to see our region thrive economically, socially, environmentally, generationally and spiritually. I want our local businesses to stay strong. I want our relationships with our family, friends and neighbors to thrive and be transparent. I want to teach people to be good stewards of the land and resources we’ve been entrusted with, and I want this to be a place where our children and grandchildren grow and stay.

I currently serve as the Vice Chair of our County Board and am active in learning about the various committees I presently serve on, which include North Country Community Mental Health, Farmland and Open Space Preservation Board, Antrim Creek Natural Area, Capital Improvement Committee, Northern Michigan Counties Association, Soil Erosion, Sedimentation, and Storm water Runoff Appeals Board and Street and Road Numbering Appeals Committee. I also serve as one of the liaisons for the district and circuit courts.

If you would like to learn a little more about me, please go to YouTube and type “Jarris Rubingh” in the search box; a few years ago, I won a Michigan Farm Bureau Young Farmer Award and the Farm Bureau got some really cool drone footage on our farm.

Region 3

Ryan Laylin, Cass County

I am a Cass County Commissioner, resident of Silver Creek Township and dad to Kenley, age 9, and Paxton, age 6. I am currently serving my third year as a County Commissioner and am the Vice Chair of the Board of Commissioners. I own a local small business, Bros Chimney Sweeps, a growing company that specializes in cleaning chimneys. I also enjoy hunting, fishing and golfing.

Among the many boards and commissions that currently see my service are: Surplus Property, Courthouse Restoration, Capital Projects, Parks and Recreation, Kinexus, Market Van Buren, MAC Environmental Committee and MAC Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.

As a fan with good familiarity of MAC, have attended numerous conferences hosted by MAC. Why am I interested in serving on the Board of Directors and why should the members of Region 3 support me?

Here are my reasons for wanting to serve:

  • Just as I have shown in my time as County Commissioner, I will make the interests of MAC Region 3 a priority.
  • I have served on a variety boards and commissions and understand how a board needs to effectively operate.
  • I will listen, research, discuss and give my opinion. While I do not shy away from debate on important topics, I am open minded and interested in the perspectives and opinions of my peers and the people I serve.
  • I keep up to date on issues important to Michigan counties.
  • My flexible schedule allows me time to attend Board of Directors meetings.
  • As the Vice Chair of the Cass County Board of Commissioners, and in all other boards and committees I serve, I am a team player and I understand my role.
  • As evidenced by my ability to help get key, important ordinances and resolutions passed, I know how to get the job done.
  • As a small business owner, I am aware of the issues that affect small businesses in Michigan.
  • I know that southwest and west Michigan are unique parts of our state. What is good for other regions of the state may not work here. I understand the unique differences among the Counties in Region 3, and even though I live in Cass County, I will be accessible to anyone in the Region who needs my help and will advocate for our region.
  • If elected, I will do what is right and best for the Counties in Region 3.

 

Tom Matthew, Branch

I hope that I can make the case that I will be ready to work on day one. The 83 counties deserve a board member who can immediately get to work on their behalf.

I believe that my deep involvement in the communities, good relationships with fellow commissioners, government officials, appreciation for the diversity of our counties and a desire to empower my neighbors will allow me to hit the ground running as a MAC Board Member.

I look forward to working with you on behalf of the MAC. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Tami Rey, Kalamazoo

I serve as the Vice Chair of the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners. I am in the beginning of my second term on the Board.

I am very new to MAC but did have an opportunity to attend the conference last year, as well as meet some of the members at the MAC reception during the NACo conference last month. I am interested in serving on this board as I am always looking for opportunities to learn and grow.

I represent a very diverse district here in Kalamazoo and believe that I can bring a different perspective as well as new ideas and viewpoints to the Board.

 

Rick Shaffer, St. Joseph

Rick Shaffer is 40-year resident of St Joseph County and is widely known for his active service in healthcare and county government activities.

As a current County Commissioner, with over 20 years of service, he often refers to himself as the “historic voice of reason.” Widely known in St. Joseph County for his many years of advocacy for youth and senior programs, Shaffer 68, is a Registered Nurse. He currently works as the director of Outreach Patient Services (previous CEO ) for Covered Bridge Healthcare (Federally Qualified Healthcare Center ) in Centreville.

With over five decades, his career includes: funeral/ambulance service, pediatric nursing manager, nursing home administrator, 59th District state representative and director of Three Rivers Home Care and Hospice. In addition, he currently chairs the Community Mental Health Board and participates on multiple county boards, including Centreville Downtown Development Authority, Community Action Agency, Commission on Aging, Area Agency on Aging (3B), St. Joseph County Planning, Parks and Recreation and the St. Joseph County Animal Advisory Committee. His community volunteerism includes Rotary (past president) and the St Joseph County United Way Board. He was awarded/ recognized as Three Rivers Citizen of the Year by the local Lions Club. Through his church, he has made 20 annual trips, taking students to support medical activities in dental, medical and optometric services in Haiti and/or the Dominican Republic.

Rick and his wife Sara are grandparents, raising their two preschool grandchildren.

“As residents of St. Joseph County, we are fortunate to have high quality lifestyle opportunities,” Shaffer said. “We have an abundance of services including business, industry, recreation and health care. In addition, our seniors are able to take advantage of countywide transportation and take advantage of lifestyle social enrichment programs offered by our senior centers in both cities.”

As a long-time County Commissioner and former state representative, Shaffer has long been a supporter of MAC and the initiatives that it provides to Michigan counties and its Commissioners. He shares a desire to serve on the MAC Board of Directors, and pledges: “I will commit my time and broad based career experiences to support the MAC Board that advances communication and cooperation between Michigan’s county governments and the state and federal governments.”

Region 4

Irene Cahill, Ingham County

I work for the residents and citizens of Lansing as the Lansing forestry and cemetery supervisor. Through my work, I am privy to the day-to-day concerns of the residents of the city of Lansing and of my staff. Because of this, I am keenly aware of the need for our elected officials to engage with and support opportunities for today’s youth moving through public and higher education and on into the workforce.

In addition, I represent Ingham County on the Michigan Broadband Task Force, as well as Capital Area Michigan Works and Lansing Economic Development. I look forward to the opportunity to work with you in the future and serve our community.

 

Dwight Washington, Clinton County

I have been and would like to continue working toward improving community well- being through government on issues that are important for all of us. With your vote of support, I will provide my experiences and expertise in natural resource management, health and wellness and social services to our region and other Michigan counties.

I initially chose to run for office in 2016 to better our region’s environmental conservation, sustainable economic growth and community well-being. During my six years as a commissioner, I have held true to my values and have refined my skills to make necessary and essential decisions to maintain and improve the quality of life in my local community, and the Greater Tri-County region. My objective has been to make a positive difference by utilizing my education, my work experiences to support the social-emotional lives of youth, conflict resolution training and my professional passion to improve environmental policy and practices in private industry and government.

I am proud that my efforts to lead have earned respect and admiration of Democratic and Republican elected officials and staff in the pertinent state and federal government organizations around the state and country. I believe that democracy is strengthened and thrives with a united citizenry that is informed and empowered to act responsibly. In addition to local Board assignments, I have had appointments to many Mid-Michigan regional boards, including the Mid-State Health Network Substance Use Disorders Oversight Policy, Tri-County Office of Aging and Tri-County Regional Planning Commission. As a Michigan State University Spartan graduate, I proudly support the MSU Extension District Council. I am particularly passionate about being part of the Capital Area Community Services, and for having a seat on the Head Start Policy Council and the opportunity to advocate and enrich the quality of local early childhood learning environments for our youngest citizens.

Additionally, I have experience representing counties on state and federal committees. I am the chair of MAC’s Environmental Committee and serve on its Transportation and Infrastructure and Health and Human Services committees. I also serve as the MAC liaison to the Michigan Association of Local Public Health Board. I have also served on the National Association of Counties’ Health Steering Committee and Environment, Energy and Land Use Steering Committee.

Region 5

Sarah Lucido, Macomb County

I was thrilled to be elected to the 13th District on the Macomb County Board of Commissioners last year. Before that, I spent seven years serving the residents of my community on Eastpointe’s City Council. I know my community and I understand the issues that are facing municipalities and counties across Michigan. I want to run for the MAC Board to represent my constituents on the state level and to be advocate for the needs of local and county government across the state.

Although I have lived my adult life in Macomb County, I spent a large part of my childhood living in Roscommon County and I have family ties that stretch across the northern Lower Peninsula. My husband and I own property in Crawford County, and we spend a significant amount of time there each year. While, certainly not unique, I believe that my experiences and personal ties across Michigan provide me with some added perspective on the diversity of our state. It has made me hungry to learn more about the needs of both urban and rural Michigan. This is a big reason why I would love the opportunity to serve on the MAC Board.

I believe that I would be an ideal candidate for the MAC Board. I look forward to meeting more of you at the upcoming MAC conference and to working together to more Michigan forward.

 

Terry Marecki, Wayne County

There has never been a more pivotal time for local government leaders to get our boots on the ground to move our state forward in a unified way. Following the events in recent years, Michigan is in a strong financial position to better the lives of Michiganders, but to do so we need active and guiding leaders to shepherd the way. Wayne County is thriving, and as a County Commissioner, I have demonstrated my ability to foster an environment that promotes growth and prosperity.

I have been dedicated to serving my community for decades, and my experiences as a leader in education and at the city, county, and national levels will allow me to bring an added perspective to the board. My success working alongside colleges from many different backgrounds proves that I have what it takes to be a successful MAC Board Member.

I was first elected as Wayne County Commissioner in 2014, and I have greatly enjoyed and benefited from my work as a county leader over the past eight years. My current assignments on the Commission include serving as Chair of the Committee on Public Services and as a member on the Ways & Means Committee, Health & Human Services Committee, Benefits & Staffing Task Force and the Special Committee on the Criminal Justice Complex.

I serve as one of Wayne County’s representatives on the Detroit Zoological Authority, and I am active with the National Association of Counties where I serve on the Large Urban Caucus Committee and the Transportation Policy Steering Committee. Outside of my county work, I am involved in community organizations including in the role of Secretary for the Livonia Community Foundation, Chair of the Livonia Prayer Breakfast board, and honorary board member of the Livonia Public Schools Foundation.

Thank you for the honor of considering me for the MAC Board to represent Region V. I truly look forward to the opportunity to serve my county and state on a larger platform, and to work with leaders from across Michigan to advance our state for the better.

Region 6

Donald Jay O’Farrell, Iosco County

It is my wish to be a voice to represent the people of my region of northeastern Michigan on the MAC Board. We are in need of representation for this area, and I believe I could serve well in this capacity.

I currently serve as Iosco County chairman of the board. I have been District 5 commissioner for the last 12 years; chairman for the last three years.

I grew up in Whittemore, Mich., where I graduated from high school. I went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Michigan State University. I spent more than 32 years in law enforcement, retiring as a police lieutenant with the Pittsfield Township Police Department in Ann Arbor. I am a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command and of the 211th session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.

My wife Jennifer and I share four sons and six grandchildren. We were able to obtain our dream to move back to my hometown of Whittemore upon retirement.

MAC-backed revenue sharing bills introduced

Two different packages of bills that create a state Revenue Sharing Trust Fund and direct the expenditures of such a fund have been introduced in the Legislature.

Senate Bills 229230, by Sen. Veronica Klinefelt (D-Macomb), are backed by MAC and carve out a portion of the state’s sales tax for deposit into the fund (10% of all funds collected by 4 percentage points of the sales tax rate).

The bills also:

  • Stipulate the money in the fund does not lapse to the state’s General Fund
  • Allocate an even split of the funds between counties and CVTs (cities, villages and townships)

A dedicated fund helps protect revenue sharing dollars from being raided during the annual appropriations process. The 10 percent collection rate would boost current allocations to counties and reflect the true intention of revenue sharing by requiring a portion of the state’s revenue to be shared with local governments. In this system, if sales tax revenue goes up, revenue sharing would go up, if the sales tax revenue fell, so would the money in the fund. 

Legislation advanced by the Michigan Municipal League (House Bills 427475 and SBs 182183) takes a slightly different approach.

That package would create a base in a Revenue Sharing Trust Fund of the Fiscal Year 2024 recommended revenue sharing amounts and distribute funds on the current allocation method. The fund could accept additional monies but would not require additional deposits into the fund. While this approach would help insulate local governments from further raids on revenue sharing by the Legislature, it does not build in a system for growth. 

The current revenue sharing system is overly complicated and not well understood. For example, many don’t know that counties don’t share in more than $1 billion in constitutional revenue sharing that all CVTs receive per capita. For a quick primer on the revenue sharing program, check out this slide deck prepared by the House Fiscal Agency.  

Parity on the statutory side of revenue sharing, as reflected in Sen. Klinefelt’s bills mentioned above, is appropriate given the fact counties serve 100 percent of the state’s population and have significantly more mandated services to provide to our residents than other local governments.

MAC also is advocating for an increase in the amount in the fund to ensure no local government is faced with reductions in their allocation and to ensure the state supports the work done at the regional and local levels.

A survey recently conducted by MAC found members would use additional revenue sharing dollars to invest in communities in ways long supported by the Legislature, such as infrastructure; unfunded liabilities; customer service improvements; attraction and retention of employees; economic development; and cybersecurity.

Revenue sharing is the most flexible form of state aid to counties, which makes it the most effective method to fund generational investments in public services — with decisions made at the local level. Reform of revenue sharing is one of MAC’s top legislative priorities for 2023.

For more information on this issue, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Juvenile Justice Reform Task Force testifies before Senate panel

Members of the Michigan Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform testified before the Senate Committee on Civil Rights, Judiciary and Public Safety this week on the 32 recommendations they provided to the Legislature last July.

Of these recommendations, two tiers of priorities have been identified.

The first tier, consisting of six priorities, will be introduced in an approximately 15-bill package later this spring. This package would include expansions to the County Child Care Fund (CCF), including an increase in reimbursement rates to counties from 50 percent to 75 percent for community-based services; expanding eligibility for diversion; and requiring the use of risk and needs assessments.

(UPDATE: Please see clarification on CCF rate changes in the Aug. 25, 2023, Legislative Update.)

In addition to expanding the CCF, the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission would be expanded to implement youth defense standards in local county defense systems, the State Appellate Defender’s Office would be required to oversee a system of appellate defense for juveniles and court fines and fees for juveniles would be waived.

MAC supports this bill package and will continue working to implement the recommendations of the task force.

For more information on this issue, please contact Samantha Gibson at gibson@micounties.org.

 

New rules on materials management loom for counties

On March 29, new state legal provisions kick in requiring counties to update their Materials Management Plans (MMP) and increase recycling rates in Michigan.

(NOTE: If you listened to this week’s Podcast 83, be advised that timetables shared there were incorrect; see correct information below.)

A 180-day window for counties to determine whether they planned to file a Notice of Intent (NOI) with the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) does not officially begin until the director of the EGLE initiates it.

After those 180 days, if a county declines to prepare a new MMP, EGLE will create one for them and the county will then be responsible for implementing the plan. If a county decides to file an NOI and prepare their own MMP, they will have 36 months to plan and receive approval from EGLE. Counties have the option to collaborate with neighboring counties to create regional plans.

Counties that file an NOI will be provided funding from the state to prepare their plans. Each county will be granted a base of $60,000, plus 50 cents per capita, up to $300,000. An additional $10,000 will be given to each county that enters a multi-county plan.

Until the EGLE director initiates the process, counties can consider their waste capacity limits, their willingness to draft their own MMP and whether they would like to partner with other counties.

In the meantime, EGLE will be hosting monthly webinars to walk counties through the process. We encourage each county to have at least one representative participate in these discussions. The meetings are typically held on the third Wednesday of each month; however, April’s meeting has been cancelled.

The next scheduled meeting will be from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. on May 17. To be included in future meeting notices, please email egle-mmp@michigan.gov.

For more information on this issue, contact Madeline Fata at fata@micounties.org.

 

Wayne County addresses Senate panel on juvenile facility crisis

Wayne County officials were called to testify this week before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee in the wake of news reports of major problems at the county’s juvenile center.

Every county in Michigan is suffering from a bed and/or staffing shortage within the juvenile justice system. Incidents like those in Wayne can and should be avoided with the help of the state Department of Health and Human Services. Without proper funding of our juvenile justice system, staff go underpaid and overworked, then leave. Youths go without the services they need and deserve, and risks to public safety are posed.

Court-involved youth in Michigan are currently staying in short-term detention facilities, such as Wayne’s, for months or, in some cases, even years. The staffing shortage has led to countless empty beds in residential facilities that would otherwise be in use. Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula do not have access to a local facility and are forced to send youths to Southern Michigan or out of state. This issue has become a crisis, and the time is now for our state to provide funding to alleviate the burden on this system.

MAC has requested that the state fund staff recruitment, retention, and training to resolve the current staffing shortage crisis, as well as funding for the creation of an additional facility to serve northern counties who do not have access.

For more information on this issue, contact Samantha Gibson at gibson@micounties.org.

 

Podcast 83 looks at juvenile justice, solid waste, revenue sharing

Major changes are looming for three significant areas of county responsibility, MAC’s Podcast 83 team said this week.

Host Stephan Currie and the MAC Governmental Affairs Team of Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson took in-depth looks at the following issues in Lansing:

  • Juvenile justice reform legislation, with Gibson saying a large packet of bills would constitute “a whole juvenile system overhaul”
  • Revenue sharing reform, with Bosworth detailing her recent testimony to multiple legislative panels on MAC’s plan to create a protected fund for revenue sharing payments and create parity between counties and other local governments on such appropriations
  • Materials management, with Fata reporting that the clock is ticking for counties to make a big decision on whether, under state law passed last year, they will write new solid waste plans or let the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy do so (Correction: Some of the timing mentioned in this week’s podcast on this issue is incorrect; please refer to the written item in this Legislative Update for proper details.)

See the full video, recorded on March 20, by clicking here.

Previous episodes can be seen at MAC’s YouTube Channel.

And you always can find details about Podcast 83 on the MAC website.

 

Opioid Advisory Commission releases annual report

The Michigan Opioid Advisory Commission released its 2023 Annual Report: A Planning Guide for State Policy Makers on Thursday (March 23). The report provides a comprehensive overview of the background of the opioid epidemic in Michigan and the national landscape in which the opioid settlements are taking place. The report details the state of Michigan’s intended uses of current settlement funds and outlines approved uses of funds as provided in Exhibit E.

The report looks specifically at the Principles for the Use of Funds From the Opioid Litigation and provides a scorecard for Michigan’s adoption of these principles, identifying strategies and gaps. The final section of the report outlines the commission’s findings and recommendations, as well as the Opioid Advisory Commissions strategic plan and planning considerations.

As a reminder, local governments have been given an opportunity to participate in national Opioid Settlements with Teva, Allergan, CVS and Walmart. To participate in these settlements, counties must complete a participation form and return the form by April 18. We encourage all counties to participate in these additional settlements.

For more information on this issue, contact Amy Dolinky at dolinky@micounties.org.

 

MAC makes case on revenue sharing to Senate funding panel

Properly investing in local government services is a key economic development strategy, MAC told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee this week.

Testifying before the Subcommittee on General Government, Deena Bosworth, MAC’s director of governmental affairs, urged legislators to take up a MAC-backed plan to dedicate proper funding to revenue sharing to secure local services.

County revenue sharing, Bosworth explained, was established as an alternative to local taxation, with the intent that the state would share its revenue with local governments. However, revenue sharing has not kept up with the growth of the state budget or inflation “While economic development projects are crucial to our state, investing in these projects is only a piece of the pie — counties need to properly fund the services we provide, from public health to roads, we serve 100 percent of the population, but we only receive a fraction of the unrestricted revenue sharing dollars from the state,” she noted.

Also, there are no inflationary adjustments in the revenue sharing dollars counties receive, leaving FY23 revenue sharing for counties at $245 million. If the state paid counties at the same rates as from FY01, with adjustments for inflation, FY23 revenue sharing would amount to $392 million.

MAC supports parity in statutory revenue sharing for counties and would like the Legislature to bring counties up to the same recommended level as the revenue sharing for cities, villages and township, proposed at $293.5 million.

MAC also requested to eliminate unnecessary and time-consuming reporting requirements created by the County Incentive Program, which involves 20 percent of a county’s revenue sharing funds.

For more information on this issue, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Federal proposal would ease regulations on foster homes

A new regulation to allow child welfare agencies to adopt less stringent licensing standards for all relative and kinship foster family homes was offered by federal officials last month. Counties with foster care jurisdiction are encouraged to submit comments on the proposed regulation before April 17.

Kinship care allows relatives or close friends to care for children who are removed from their homes as a result of abuse or neglect. The state of Michigan is facing a foster care bed shortage. Alleviating administrative hurdles for relatives to become licensed foster care providers, rather than placing youth in the foster care system, would allow children to stay with adults they know and leave foster care beds open to those who do not have kinship care options.

MAC supports federal efforts, including the proposed regulation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to increase and incentivize kinship placements for best possible outcomes for children under the care of the county.

For more information on this issue, contact Samantha Gibson at gibson@micounties.org.

 

Celebrate County Government Month in April

National County Government Month (NCGM), held each April, is an annual celebration of county government. Since 1991, the National Association of Counties (NACo) has encouraged counties to actively promote county roles and responsibilities in serving residents. Counties can schedule activities any time during the month. NCGM is an excellent opportunity for your county to highlight effective or innovative county programs and raise public awareness of services provided to the community.

This year’s National County Government Month theme is consistent with NACo President Denise Winfrey’s focus for the year, Counties RISE!

RISE! stands for Resiliency, Inclusion, Solvency and Empowerment – and the exclamation point speaks to the enthusiasm and passion with which we tell those stories. Counties are encouraged to reflect on this theme as you choose how to celebrate NCGM.

NACo’s NCGM page has a wealth of resources for counties to use to engage with residents on the central role county government plays in everyday life:

If you have questions about National County Government Month, please contact Nicole Weissman at nweissman@naco.org.

 

State regulator pledges higher outage fee in wake of ice storm

Michigan’s utility regulatory will start requiring a $35 per day credit in power outages, indexed for inflation, a House committee was told Wednesday.

The House Energy, Communications and Technology Committee is reviewing the actions of Michigan’s two major electric utilities, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy, in the wake of last month’s devastating ice storm that left hundreds of thousands without power.

Representatives of the state Public Service Commission (PSC), which oversees utilities, said it would be altering its rules to require the $35 per day credit, up from the flat $35 (DTE) or $25 (Consumers) credit to utility customers who went without power for more than 96 hours.

DTE and Consumers execs faced extensive questioning about their role in the outages.

While DTE acknowledged the existing fee was not enough to replenish the food lost by households during these outages, but explained the, set by PSC, is meant as a penalty to utilities, rather than compensation to customers.

Both DTE and Consumers insisted the most pressing need for both companies is properly investing in a reliable grid. They claim that is the key to fewer outages and they asked for support from the legislature and all stakeholders to help make the necessary improvements.

Several customers delivered impassioned testimony about the impact these outages had on their families. Committee members voiced their sympathies and urged the utilities to take these personal stories into consideration moving forward.

MAC will continue to monitor any legislative responses to the energy emergency and provide updates if necessary.

 

 

Registration opens for 2023 Legislative Conference

Registration opened today (March 10) for the 2023 Michigan Counties Legislative Conference, the first of MAC’s two signature events for our 125th Anniversary year.

This year’s event will be April 24-26 in Lansing, with sessions at both the Radisson Hotel and the Lansing Center. The event is co-hosted by the Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council (MCMFC).

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been invited to keynote the conference, with her remarks currently scheduled for Tuesday, April 25.

Click here to register.

Additional plenary sessions will feature:

  • A discussion with the Legislative “Quadrant” (the four senior officials in the House and Senate) led by MAC’s director of governmental affairs, Deena Bosworth
  • “A National Perspective on the County Landscape and Priorities” by Matt Chase, executive director of the National Association of Counties
  • A MAC Legislative Update from MAC’s Governmental Affairs staff
  • A State of MAC report from MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie
  • Remarks from MAC President Stan Ponstein of Kent County

Breakout sessions on current challenges for county leaders will include the impact of electric vehicles on road funding, trial court funding, running effective meetings with Robert’s Rules of Order, property tax limitations and litigation and maintenance on dams.

A Legislative Reception will be held on the evening of Tuesday, April 25, during which MAC will present its County Advocate Awards for legislative service in 2022.

See draft agenda (subject to change).

MCMCFC members may attend special sessions for them on human trafficking, the state’s Freedom of Information Act, the opioid settlement funding and survey readiness. These sessions have been submitted to WNA CEAP for approval to award contact hours. Wisconsin Nurses Association is an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation. These sessions also have been submitted to NAB for Nursing Home Administrator credits.

The conference will be an in-person event.

Your member registration fee of $405 provides access to all conference events, snacks at the Radisson Hotel on Monday afternoon, the Legislative Reception with appetizers and beverages, two breakfasts at the Lansing Center (Tues-Wed), lunch on Tuesday at the Lansing Center and a boxed lunch on Wednesday you can take with you on your journey home.

Those eligible for the member rate include county commissioners, county administrators, county clerks, county treasurers, county registers, county prosecutors, county sheriffs, county drain commissioners, county department heads and employees and staff of MCMCFC member facilities.

  • Early-bird Member Rate $405 ends April 3
  • Early-bird Non-member Rate $480 ends April 3
  • Member Regular Rate $475
  • Non-member Regular Rate $550
  • Please note that single-day rates will NOT be offered
  • Last day to cancel is April 14

Hotel information

The Radisson Hotel Lansing at the Capitol is again providing a special group rate for the event and is connected via the newly renovated pedestrian bridge to the Lansing Center itself. The bridge now offers improved lighting, new security systems, ventilation system and carpet.

The cutoff date to reserve your room in the conference block is April 3. There is no guarantee that rooms will be available until April 3, so you are encouraged to reserve early.

Call 1-800-333-3333 or click HERE to make your reservation.

Radisson Hotel Lansing | 111 N. Grand Ave. | Lansing, MI 48933

Room rate: $142.95* | Event code: MAC423

Check-in is 4 p.m.; check-out is 12PM

Valet parking is $20 per vehicle per night

*Rate does not include 13% tax

Tax-exempt status: For any Radisson Hotel overnight guest(s) to be eligible for tax-exempt status, (1) the room must be paid for directly by the guest’s government agency, either with a check or credit card, and (2) the guest must provide a copy of the agency’s tax-exempt form. Tax-exempt status is not granted for rooms paid for by the individual, even if getting reimbursed.

Hotel Cancellation Policy: You may cancel with a full refund up to 72 hours prior to arrival. Cancellations received within 72 hours or arrival will forfeit one (1) night room and tax.

 

Podcast 83 team reviews legislative action on state spending, NACo activities

In their regular weekly episode, MAC’s Podcast 83 team discussed the following news involving county governments in Michigan:

  • Legislative passage of a billion-dollar spending plan for economic development
  • Activity from the 2023 National Association of Counties conference in Washington, D.C., in February
  • Litigation involving fees charged by Michigan trial courts
  • Podcast host Stephan Currie’s visit to the Upper Peninsula for the 2023 Continental Cup ski jump competition in Dickinson County

See the full video, recorded on March 6.

Previous episodes can be seen at MAC’s YouTube Channel.

And you always can find details about Podcast 83 on the MAC website.

Audio versions of Podcast 83 also are now available via the Spotify app.

 

Participation forms for opioid settlements coming soon

Local governments will be given an opportunity to participate in national Opioid Settlements with Teva, Allergan, CVS and Walmart. Collectively, these settlements are expected to bring in around $450 million to Michigan and will have the same allowable uses of funds as the J&J and Distributors settlements.

To participate in these settlements, counties must complete a participation form and return the form by April 18. County governments should expect to receive the participation email no later than Tuesday, March 14. The participation forms will be sent in a single email and will use Docusign. The form can be signed electronically or signed physically, scanned and emailed back. 

We encourage all counties to participate in these additional settlements.

For more information on this issue, contact Amy Dolinky at dolinky@micounties.org.

 

MAC releases templates to assist with opioid settlement planning

MAC has created supplemental documents to the Michigan Opioid Settlements Funds Toolkit: A Guide for Local Spending. The new templates being released include:

  • Spending Plan Template (PDF) (Excel)
    • Excel file that outlines what information should be captured for each strategy being funded that will assist with future reporting
  • PowerPoint Presentation Template (PDF) (PowerPoint)
    • PowerPoint file that provides an overview of the opioid settlements, allowable strategies to fund, and areas for input of specific information around strategies the county will be funding
  • Annual Report Template (PDF) (Word)
    • Word file that outlines information that counties can share publicly on an annual basis through their website and with community partners that includes key questions to answer to increase public understanding, process, and transparency
    • Additional guidance from national organizations around specific metrics associated with activities are expected to be released later in the year

The National Association of Counties, in partnership with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has also released a quick guide for completing a needs assessment, The Principles Quick Guide to Conducting a Needs Assessment to support counties in understanding community needs and assisting in tailoring services to meet those needs.

If you have specific template documents that you would like created, or questions, please contact MAC’s Amy Dolinky at dolinky@micounties.org.

 

Act by March 14 on ‘ROBIN’ broadband grants

Grant applications for the Realizing Opportunity with Broadband Infrastructure Networks (ROBIN) program are due by 4 p.m. on March 14. Almost $240 million is available for “last mile” and “middle mile” infrastructure for communities who partner with an internet service provider. The infrastructure must be used to expand broadband in unserved areas.

The Michigan High-Speed Internet Office (MIHI) will evaluate the applications and release funds in late spring or early summer 2023; all funds must be expended by 2026. For more information on the ROBIN program, please follow this link.

The ROBIN program is just the first of two major federal investments in broadband expansion. MIHI is currently in the data collection phase of administering the second program: Broadband Access, Equity, and Deployment Act (BEAD), a whopping $1.6 billion for unserved and underserved communities.

The MIHI team continues to travel across the state this winter and spring as part of its MI Connected Future Listening Tour gathering input from the public. They visited Lapeer and Marysville earlier this week and will be in Bad Axe on March 14. Please find a complete list of upcoming tour locations here.

For more information on MAC’s broadband policy work, contact Madeline Fata at fata@micounties.org

 

ARP reporting portal will open on April 1, NACo advises

The National Association of Counties issued the following alert on Thursday:

“Here’s an update from the U.S. Department of Treasury regarding new reporting requirements for the upcoming Project and Expenditure (P&E) Report due April 30, 2023, for the ARPA State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. The portal will not open until April 1, 2023, for counties to submit their P&E Reports. These updates apply to all counties unless a county allocated its entire ARPA allocation towards the $10 million revenue loss standard allowance.

“The P&E Report updates include:

  1. Unique Entity ID Requirements for Subrecipients and Contractors: All subrecipients and contractors are required to have a Unique Entity ID (UEI) and have that number included as part of the reporting process. The UEI is the replacement for the previously used DUNS numbers, and they are issued by SAM.gov. While this requirement is not new, starting in April 2023’s P&E Report the report form will now return an error when no valid UEI is provided when creating new Subrecipient or Contractor entities. This was previously not explicitly required, but strongly urged by Treasury.
    1. Treasury has stated that for the April 2023 P&E reporting form, if a pre-existing subrecipient or contractor record does not have a UEI, the system will simply flag it as a warning but not prevent them from submission of the entire P&E report.
    2. However, ANY NEW subrecipient or contractor records will be required to have their UEIs provided and they cannot create those entities without one.
    3. Treasury has stated they DO NOT KNOW how long they will be able to keep this flexibility available after April 2023 so counties should get their UEIs together ASAP.
  2. New Subaward/Direct Payments Entity Type: All Subawards/Direct Payments records will be required to have an “entity type” selected before a subaward can be created. This field will capture whether the entity receiving the award or payment is a Subrecipient, Contractor, or Beneficiary. If a county attempts to create a new subaward for a subrecipient without a populated entity type field will result in an error.

“For more information, go to Treasury’s Recipient Compliance and Reporting Guidance page.”

 

CRC webinar analyzes Michigan budget situation

The nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan, in partnership with the MIRS News Service, hosted a webinar to break down Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s fiscal year 2024 budget and the state’s financial situation.

MAC is a longtime supporter of the council’s work and encourages members to check out the webinar video or slides.

To watch the video, click here.

To review the slides, click here.

 

Governor appoints Kent commissioner, MAC director to housing panel

A Kent County commissioner and the executive director of MAC were included in appointments by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) Statewide Housing Partnership.

 David Bulkowski, of Grand Rapids, is a commissioner for Kent County and serves as executive director at the Disability Advocates of Kent County. He is appointed to represent community development or advocacy organizations that provide services or housing to families or support other organizations who do.

Stephan W. Currie is executive director of Michigan Association of Counties and serves as a member of the Horizon Bank Advisory Board of Directors. He is appointed to represent local government, which might include representatives from county or municipal government associations.

Last year, Whitmer signed Executive Order 2022-10 establishing the Statewide Housing Partnership. Its primary responsibility is to develop a strategy to implement the Michigan Statewide Housing Plan released in 2022 and make recommendations to MSHDA on how best to achieve its goals. The plan presented opportunities for organizations to partner on common objectives, including rehabilitating and stabilizing the housing supply, reducing equity gaps and homelessness and increasing home energy efficiency and weatherization.

The new Statewide Housing Partnership will lead a coordinated, data-driven, outcome-oriented approach to housing, ensuring that all Michiganders have a safe, affordable place to call home. They will also establish regional consortiums to ensure statewide initiatives build on local efforts whenever possible, and they will keep Michiganders updated on their progress with public-facing communications. The partnership will dissolve on Sept. 6, 2024.

As part of this process, the partnership will hold a facilitated work session to start laying the groundwork for a formal RHP and learn how regional collaboration is key to advancement of the plan. County leaders interested in participating in one of these meetings should go to the registration link.

 

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