Bierlein becomes MAC’s 110th president; 3 newcomers elected to MAC Board

Tuscola County's Matthew Bierlein is sworn in by Judge Amy Gierhart as his wife, Mindy, and children look on. (Rod Sanford Photography)

Tuscola County’s Matthew Bierlein is sworn in by Judge Amy Gierhart as his wife, Mindy, and children look on. (Rod Sanford Photography)

The Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) elected board officers for its 2017-18 term and added two new board members at the MAC Annual Conference, held Sept. 24-26 at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

Matthew Bierlein, a Tuscola County commissioner, was sworn in as MAC’s 110th president since the organization’s founding on Feb. 1, 1898. During his first address as president to the association, Bierlein called for greater engagement with all of Michigan’s 622 county commissioners.

Joining Bierlein on the board’s executive team are: First Vice President Ken Borton, an Otsego County commissioner; Second Vice President Veronica Klinefelt of Macomb County; and Immediate Past President Shelley Taub, an Oakland County commissioner.

“Our new leadership team brings a great variety of skills and experiences to our board,” said Stephan W. Currie, MAC’s executive director. “We have a great team in place as we begin to implement our strategic plan adopted by the board at the Annual Conference.”

In board elections held at the conference, MAC members in attendance elected three new board members:

  • Joe Bonovetz of Gogebic County
  • Richard Schmidt of Manistee County
  • Jim Storey of Allegan County

Also serving as directors on the board for the 2017-18 term are:

  • Donald Disselkoen (Ottawa County)
  • Philip Kuyers (Ottawa County)
  • Christian Marcus (Antrim County)
  • Joseph Palamara (Wayne County)
  • Robert Showers (Clinton County)
  • Joe Stevens (Dickinson County)
  • Hugh Crawford (Oakland County)
  • Vaughn Begick (Bay County)
  • Stan Ponstein (Kent County)

For more information on MAC, visit www.micounties.org.

Allegan County wins top national award for digital practices

Mark DeYoung (second from left) and Jon Campbell (second from right) accept Allegan County's first place award in the 2015 Digital Survey Awards. (courtesy photo)

Mark DeYoung (second from left) and Jon Campbell (second from right) accept Allegan County’s first place award in the 2015 Digital Survey Awards. (courtesy photo)

Allegan County Board of Commissioners Chairman Mark DeYoung and fellow Allegan Commissioner Jon Campbell were presented the first place award in the Center for Digital Government’s 2015 Digital Survey Awards at the National Association of Counties’ Annual Conference this week.

Allegan, which won in the under 150,000 population category, was honored for offering 27 different online services, including its online GIS Data Library, which citizens and customers can download at no cost. Judges also made note of the county’s Connect with Us social media portal and its collaboration with Kent and Ottawa counties on procurement. “This solution and the consortium created by these three counties serve as a model for other municipalities across the state of Michigan,” the judges wrote.

Commissioner Don Disselkoen accepts Ottawa County's digital award at the NACo Annual Conference in North Carolina. (courtesy photo)

Commissioner Don Disselkoen accepts Ottawa County’s digital award at the NACo Annual Conference in North Carolina. (courtesy photo)

Campbell also serves as president of the MAC Board of Directors.

Several other Michigan counties received honors at the event.

Oakland County won third place in the over 500,000 category for its suite of programs, including a countywide social media strategy, its G2G (Government to Government) Marketplace.

Commissioner Don Disselkoen of Ottawa County, also a MAC Board member, was on hand to pick up his county’s sixth place award in the 250,000 to 449,999 category.

Jackson County Commissioner Sarah Lightner poses with her county's award. (courtesy photo)

Jackson County Commissioner Sarah Lightner poses with her county’s award. (courtesy photo)

Jackson County Commissioner Sarah Lightner accepted her county’s 10th place award in the 150,000 to 249,999 category. Berrien County received fifth place in the same population category.

The 2015 Digital Counties Survey, conducted by e.Republic’s Center for Digital Government, highlights counties across the country that are digital leaders. Established in 1984, e.Republic is the nation’s only media and research company focused exclusively on state and local government and education.

“This is an outstanding example of how Michigan counties are using innovation and technology to protect and enhance public services in tight budgetary times,” said Tim McGuire, executive director of MAC. “As these results show, counties of any size can find new ways to help their residents.”

You win some, lose some at Capitol

DSC_0139.jpgWhile 2014 has been an outstanding year for MAC legislative initiatives (full revenue sharing funding, Cunningham court funding crisis averted), there always are debates that don’t play out so well. Which, of course, means a redoubling of our efforts in the coming legislative term.

This week, legislation to extend county authority to merge road commissions (House Bills 5117-18) was put on the shelf, meaning that the authority will expire on Dec. 31. We are disappointed in this result, but will look to address the issue again in the new legislative term.

Legislation altering the rules on tax increment financing, or “tax capture,” districts also stalled this fall.

We have been working throughout this legislative session on revisions to the TIF law, principally to ensure that counties always have the option on whether to have millage dollars captured by TIF districts, the length of time of that capture and the ability to partner with the authorities by having a seat at the table. The legislation sponsored by Rep. Eileen Kowall (R-Oakland), however, eventually was written in such a way that no real reform would result.

We expect to have new legislation filed early next year to incorporate the provisions for county authority and more reforms.

As always, the best way to stay on top of county issues at the Capitol is by being a subscriber to MAC’s weekly Legislative Update. If you are not receiving the updates, send a request and your email address to melot@micounties.org.

Seven county commissioners elected to Legislature

Crawford

Crawford

Cox

Cox

Seven county commissioners will soon move their public service from the courthouse to the Statehouse, thanks to decisions of Michigan voters Tuesday night.

The representatives-elect are:

Grand Traverse County Commissioner Larry Inman will represent the 104th District.

Inman

Inman

Iden

Iden

Kalamazoo County Commissioner Dave Maturen will represent the 63rd District.

Kalamazoo County Commissioner Brandt Iden will represent the 61st District.

Monroe County Commissioner Jason M. Sheppard will represent the 56th District.

Oakland County Commissioner Jim Runestad will represent the 44th District.

Runestad

Runestad

Maturen

Maturen

Oakland County Commissioner Kathy Crawford will represent the 38th District.

Wayne County Commissioner Laura Cox will represent the 19th District.

All seven will serve in the now-enlarged ranks of the Republican caucus in the Michigan House of Representatives. MAC looks forward to working with them on key state policy issues affecting counties,

Sheppard

Sheppard

ranging from unfunded mandates to sentencing guidelines to transportation reform.

Six counties win grants from state for cooperative work

Six counties — Eaton, Mecosta, Oakland, Oceana, Ottawa and St. Clair — are among local governments landing funds via the “Competitive Grant Assistance Program” for work they are doing on “mergers, consolidations, interlocal agreements and cooperative efforts,” the Treasury Department announced Tuesday.

All together, the six counties will receive about $4.5 million.

Oakland will receive the lion’s share of that sum, $3.8 million for “collaboration by three counties to form the Great Lakes Water Authority” to fix and upgrade the Detroit water system.

The amounts and purposes for the other awards are:

  • Eaton, $10,0001, for collaboration by area communities to determine the feasibility of shared recycling services.
  • Mecosta, $601,641, for consolidation of morgue services with Newaygo County.
  • Oceana, $13,750, for collaboration by area communities to determine the feasibility of shared fire services.
  • Ottawa, $31,588, for consolidation of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office with the Village of Spring Lake/City of Ferrysburg Police Department.
  • St. Clair, $10,500, for collaboration with Sanilac County to determine the feasibility of shared public health services.

For more information on the program, visit its official Web page.

 

Michigan counties gain national notice for digital prowess

Ottawa Co screen grabSix Michigan counties were honored recently in the 2014 Digital Counties Survey sponsored by the National Association of Counties and the Center for Digital Government.

Oakland County was Michigan’s highest finisher after achieving 4th Place in the categories of counties with 500,000 residents or more. Also honored were Allegan, Berrien, Eaton, Jackson and Ottawa counties.

“Counties across the country are using technology to enhance services, maximize efficiency and save money,” said NACo Executive Director Matthew D. Chase in statement announcing the awards. “The Digital Counties Survey recognizes counties’ best practices and effective uses of technology to better serve their communities.”

500,000 or more residents
Oakland County, 4th
Site: http://www.oakgov.com/Pages/home.aspx

250,000 to 499,999
Ottawa County, 7th
Site: https://www.miottawa.org/

150,000 to 249,999
Berrien County, 6th
Site: http://www.berriencounty.org/
Jackson County, 8th
Site: http://www.mygovhelp.org/JACKSONCOUNTYMI/_cs/SupportHome.aspx

Up to 150,000
Eaton County, 8th
Site: http://www.eatoncounty.org/
Allegan County, 9th
Site: http://www.allegancounty.org/

 

MAC’s Campbell warns state on court funding crisis

In a guest commentary Sept. 5 on MLive.com, MAC’s incoming president, Allegan County Commissioner Jon Campbell, issues an alert to Michigan residents about the court funding crisis created by the Cunningham ruling:

“Legislators will have a full agenda in September; however, a permanent, stable, fair fix to court funding has to be at the top of the list.”

The chart below shows the annual projected impact of the ruling, if it is not changed, for several counties across the state that responded to a MAC survey.

court cost chart*Circuit court costs only

 

 

County commissioners win legislative nominations

courtesy/Macomb County

courtesy/Macomb County

An array of county commissioners found favor with the voters in their bids to become members of the next Michigan Legislature. Among notable races tracked by MAC:

19th House District: Laura Cox of Wayne County won the Republican nomination easily and will face Stacey Dogonski in the general election.

38th House District: Kathy Crawford of Oakland County won the Republican nomination and will face Jason Catanzaro in the fall.

44th House District: Jim Runestad of Oakland County won the GOP nod in a closely watched race and will face Mark Venie in the fall.

56th House District: Jason Sheppard of Monroe County won the Republican nomination and will face Tom Redmond in the general.

61st House District: Brandt Iden of Kalamazoo County won the Republican nomination and will face John Fisher in the general election.

62nd House District: Terris Todd of Calhoun County won a squeaker for the Democratic nomination and will face John Bizon in the general.

63rd House District: Dave Maturen of Kalamazoo County won the Republican nod in this district that spreads across Kalamazoo and Calhoun counties.

104th House District: Larry Inman of Grand Traverse County emerged with a narrow victory from an eight-candidate GOP field to advance to the general election.