AG warns on meeting ‘hijackings’; MAC offers guidance on virtual sessions

As counties (large and small) and other public bodies adapt to physical distancing with virtual meetings, issues are arising with disruptions.

This week, Attorney General Dana Nessel issued a warning about examples of meetings being “hijacked”: 

“We were alerted to this problem by a Michigan reporter who participated in a Zoom conference that was hijacked,” Nessel said. “Since then we have learned of other incidents around the country. There are steps people can take to protect their cybersecurity and we encourage all users to follow the proper procedures to ensure their teleconferences are secure.” 

The warning taken by the Attorney General’s office follows a similar alert made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

To aid counties, MAC has created a tips sheet for running effective virtual sessions.

In addition, the Lansing firm of Cohl, Stoker & Toskey drafted a memo on the legal questions arising out of virtual sessions.

The key to remember is that counties must provide opportunities for the public to listen to and participate in the meeting. However, a county can still set rules for public comment, as you would with a physical meeting, and limit callers to a set time, plus cut off callers who are disturbing the peace/disrupting the meeting with threats, hate speech, etc.

After consulting these documents, if a county has any questions about virtual meetings, send them to melot@micounties.org.

 

MIDC FY21 compliance plan deadline extended 

The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission held a special public meeting March 27 to address immediate needs related to COVID-19. A letter was sent to funding units this week outlining the commission decisions and their guidance to counties as they work through these unprecedented times. 

 First, the commission approved a motion that reiterates standards 2 and 4 remain in effect through this crisis. MIDC staff will work to ensure funding units have plans and budgets that can accommodate remote capabilities during this state of emergency.

Additionally, the commission voted to keep standard 1 in effect with strong recommendation to local funding units to lift any restrictions they may have on videoconferencing (webinars) for CLE training.

The commission also approved a motion made by MAC representatives of the Commission to extend the upcoming plan submission deadline from April 30 to May 31. There is no restriction for funding units to submit earlier, and MIDC encourages doing so. However, in the event counties need flexibility or have limited ability to submit plans because of the current circumstances, the required submission deadline will now be May 31.

For more information on this issue, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

MAC webinar goes over Michigan status, fields county questions

During an hour-plus session with administrators and board chairs on April 1, MAC staffers led by Executive Director Stephan Currie detailed Michigan’s current situation and key issues affecting county governments on the front lines of the corona response.

In an extensive Q&A period at the end of the webinar, commissioners and administrators raised the following issues:

Status of filing deadlines for local and state candidates for the 2020 elections: The governor has not issued an EO on this topic. Also, the Michigan Association of County Clerks has advised MAC that they are opposed to such an extension for operational reasons. The clerks understand the difficulties of achieving the signature requirements and instead of an EO that moves the deadline, they are proposing an alternative to achieve the same goal. 

 “I believe we had about 70 people participate, and I know several others wanted to but were themselves on different calls or digital meetings,” said Currie. “So many of these issues are moving targets, but we are doing our best to get answers for our members. As always, I urge everyone to regularly check our resources page at micounties.org for the latest information we have.”

 

Help us tell county stories during crisis

MAC is reaching out to our members to help us collect special stories about county employees responding to the corona crisis. They need not be extensive – just items that show how hard county employees are working for their neighbors in this crisis.

Any photos you have tied to such stories are most appreciated. Please send any material to melot@micounties.org.

We are collecting information our website and will share via our social media channels.

Here’s an example of such stories/vignettes that we are looking for: https://www.naco.org/articles/coronavirus-counties-move-protect-elderly-vulnerable-residents

 

Webinar to support county ‘Stepping Up’ partnerships

On April 30, from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET, join a webinar on information to aid counties participating in the “Stepping Up” initiative on mental health in county jails.

Click here to register.

Partnerships and collaboration are considered essential ingredients in establishing an effective continuum of services across the Sequential Intercept Model. SAMHSA’s GAINS Center presents a webinar discussion with practitioners who have established effective partnerships and collaboration across the intercepts to increase services for justice-involved individuals with mental and substance use disorders.

Presenters will share the perspectives and strategies that have been critical to their success.

 

In difficult times, it’s important to focus on gratitude and well-being

Midland Administrator/Controller Bridgette Gransden shared these thoughts with MAC:

Merci. Arigato. Danke. Grazie. Mahalo. Gracias. Thank you. No matter what language, the words that mean thank you have a way of making us feel better. There are many types of happiness: mood, emotions, affective style, life satisfaction, wellbeing, and flourishing. Showing gratitude is an intentional activity that can help us increase life satisfaction and make us happier. Happy people are more likely to succeed, have more fulfilling relationships, and be both physically and mentally healthier — who wouldn’t want that?

Showing gratitude sounds easy. As a child you were likely taught to say please and thank you and right on cue that’s what you do. Although a general “thank you” is positive, research has shown that we get more of a happiness boost when we describe in detail what we are grateful for and so does the person to whom we are expressing our gratitude. What exactly are we grateful for? What was the emotional impact? How did that make you feel? You get the idea. … READ MORE

Latest updates on MAC Resources Page

NACo applauds county leaders’ help on federal aid bill

US Capitol

Much still must be clarified about the latest federal relief package awaiting House action before its full effects on counties are known, said officials with the National Association of Counties via a briefing call on Thursday, March 26.

NACo leaders, however, were pleased with the inclusion of the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund included in the $2 trillion Senate-approved package that’s aimed at state, local and tribal governments.

Deborah Cox of NACo was able to state that:

  • 45 percent of the $150 billion is eligible for direct payments to local units with populations above 500,000; and
  • Such funds were meant for recent expenditures due to the public health emergency and unanticipated costs to local budgets that occurred on March 1 or after.

In Michigan, though, only four counties (Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Kent) exceed the population threshold.

Cox and the NACo briefers said clarity was needed about aid to smaller counties and that there already were “100 different interpretations” of what the relief fund language actually meant.

Cox praised the calls from local county officials during the drafting process for helping to ensure counties would be specifically included in the relief fund.

Also critical is that under the economic stabilization sections of the bill, the U.S. Treasury can purchase debt from state and local units, while the Federal Reserve can participate in the secondary bond market for municipal debt, thereby reducing borrowing costs for counties.

Other key elements to the “CARES” Act identified in the call:

  • $1.32 billion is allotted to community health centers for COVID response – “a definite win for counties,” NACo said
  • Previously planned cuts to hospitals serving the uninsured and underinsured were pushed back to Nov. 30
  • $1 billion for agencies for aging to help them deliver meals, provide home-based services, support care-givers and provide equipment nursing homes to protect residents
  • $400 million for election assistance in the 2020 cycle
  • $56 million for airports in the Essential Air Service program
  • $5 billion for CDBG
  • $45 billion for FEMA disaster relief fund

NACo’s comprehensive analysis of the bill can be found here. As for eventual timing of the funds, the House passed the bill on Friday afternoon, President Trump is expected to sign it later today.

 

Damage from rising water levels will mount, state warns

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) hosted an hour-long seminar Thursday evening to highlight the vulnerability of our natural resources and infrastructure due to record high water levels across Michigan and the Great Lakes.

Presentations by the Army Corp of Engineers and EGLE provided viewers with charts and graphs reporting record levels during 2019 and 2020 for all of the Great Lakes, and the current trajectory for water levels in the coming spring and summer months. The trend is calling for significantly higher water levels and the potential for greater and more costly damage to Michigan’s shorelines, farmland, parks, roads and other critical infrastructure.

The Michigan Department of Transportation estimates it has spent more than $5 million mitigating damage and anticipates that number to reach near $100 million before it’s all over. The Michigan Department of Agriculture reported that more than million acres of farmland could not be planted due to flooding last year, and its projections for the 2020 growing season are just as stark. 

What is most concerning is damages inflicted on municipal infrastructure. These high water levels have affected stormwater systems and sewer systems and caused discharges from combined stormwater and sewer systems. EGLE sent a letter to each entity in possession of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit asking that they submit a vulnerability analysis to minimize the impact this anticipated rise in water levels will have on existing infrastructure.

The city of Detroit is spending $2 million on temporary dams to help prevent an overload of their combined stormwater and sewer systems. Work is under way to map the potential effects of a one-foot rise in Great Lakes levels, analyze where all of that water is going to go and figure out how best to notify residents of the potential for flooding.

A copy of the presentations will soon be up on EGLS website.

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

 

Urge your county to reply to census today

By now, you’ve probably received the 2020 Census in your mailbox. While national attention is properly focused on COVID-19, it is important to encourage your county residents to count themselves. The census determines congressional representation, as well as federal funding for public health and disease prevention, Medicaid and Medicare, health care centers statewide and other essential services.  

So far, Michigan ranks sixth in the country for census responses at 30.6 percent, compared to 26.2 percent nationwide (you can find an interactive map that includes all 50 states’ response rates here.) In 2010, Michigan had a response rate of 68 percent and our goal this year is 82 percent.

To date, more than 25 percent of census responses in Michigan have been done online, an option available for the first time this year. It is important to underscore that the census only has 9 questions and shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to fill out to completion.

Census takers were scheduled to begin canvassing households that hadn’t yet responded in early April, but COVID-19 has, of course, disrupted that timeline. In the interim, please urge your constituents to fill out the census at their earliest convenience. This can be done online at www.my2020census.gov, over the phone at 844-330-2020 or through the physical form that comes in the mail.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder why it’s never been more critical that all Michigan residents fill out their census form in order to get our fair share of funding for emergency services, police and fire funding, senior programs and more. Help us keep Michigan near the best in the nation!  

For more information on this issue, contact Michael Ruddock at ruddock@micounties.org.

 

Maintenance is essential activity; counties must facilitate utility work, etc.

MAC is issuing another advisory to all counties regarding your code and permit operations that affect businesses such as utilities doing maintenance work.

Here is what the Governor’s Office says on this issue under her EO:

“Q: Is construction allowed under the executive order?

“A: Some limited forms of construction are permissible, including construction to maintain and improve essential public works like roads, bridges, the telecommunications infrastructure, and public health infrastructure. Construction workers may also undertake such projects as necessary to maintain and improve the safety, sanitation, and essential operations of residences. In addition, businesses may designate construction firms to provide necessary support to the work of the businesses’ critical infrastructure workers. All construction work that is carried out while the order is in effect must be done in accordance with the mitigation measures required under section 5(c) of the order.”

We have received reports of county offices telling callers that they are blocked by the EO from operating the normal coordination process on maintenance work. One example: “Point of call (to MAC) is to discuss some issues the telecom and energy issues are having as local units of government are limiting workforce hours and availability. This has impacted critical projects and emergency repairs around the state when permits are sought or 811 staking is required.”

Please review with your teams to ensure operational/staff support to these activities.

If you have questions on this, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

County leaders, look for survey info in email, mailboxes

With the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak placing tremendous stress on so many of our communities, we’re hoping you might find time to share your experiences through the upcoming round of the Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS) program is coming soon to your mailbox.

The MPPS is an annual statewide survey of local government officials conducted by the University of Michigan in collaboration with the Michigan Townships Association (MTA), Michigan Municipal League (MML), and Michigan Association of Counties (MAC).

On March 30, you’ll receive an email link to the new MPPS questionnaire, which asks about the public health and economic challenges your county may be facing because of COVID-19. It also continues the annual tracking of counties’ fiscal health.

The U-M survey team plans to quickly share responses to the COVID-19 questions with other leaders to help the state respond to the crisis, all while carefully protecting your anonymity and confidentiality. Your participation is crucial to the success of the MPPS program.

If you have questions about this research study, you can contact Dr. Debra Horner, Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy, University of Michigan, 5309 Weill Hall, 735 S. State St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109, 734-647-4091, closup-mpps@umich.edu.

Please keep an eye out for your email invitation to take the survey next week. Thank you so much for supporting this effort.

 

State adjutant general details crisis response

On Thursday, the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs released a letter from Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, the state adujant general, on efforts by the National Guard to assist communities during the coronavirus crisis.
 
Rogers noted, “The Michigan National Guard has approximately 300 personnel already supporting the State of Michigan’s COVID-19 response. Since March 18th, guard members have supported relief activities across the state, with missions including relief planning, assembling and loading critical personal protective gear, and staffing at distribution centers across Michigan.”
 

 

DTE outlines actions taken in coronavirus crisis

DTE has taken the following actions to aid customers and keep employees safe during this challenging, unprecedented time:

  • DTE has all employees who can work remotely doing so, and we’ve kept those essential employees needed at facilities in their roles to maintain both gas and electric service for our customers
  • We are also suspending shutoffs and extend senior programs in response to the coronavirus through April 30
  • DTE has suspended all non-essential work as of March 23 – news release with details below
  • Updates for customers, including Q&A, can be found by visiting dteenergy.com/covid19.

 

MAC issues committee, conference updates in response to coronavirus

With coronavirus confirmed in Michigan, MAC has announced several steps to respond to the coronavirus situation in the interests of minimizing risk to members and staff alike.

First, we have created a resource page for county leaders in responding to the crisis. This page will be updated regularly.

Second, for members of our policy committees, we are shifting all upcoming meetings to teleconference-only sessions until further notice. Our staff will be in contact with committee members on the details of these sessions. As we already routinely offer a teleconference option to committee meetings, you should see a seamless transition.

Third, we have prepared for the option of MAC staffers to work at home, rather than in our Lansing offices. Each staffer will have a laptop that connects to our file system and phone access will be maintained via cell lines. You will still be able to call our main number, 517-372-5374, and a MAC staffer will answer your call.

We have NOT yet taken this step, but it is important to be ready to do so as events dictate. If we do shift to working at home, all members will be alerted by email.

Fourth, we are consulting with MAC Board leadership and our venues and monitoring advisories from county and state health officials as we continue planning for our 2020 Legislative Conference in Lansing April 15-17. As of this moment, the conference is still set to go forward as scheduled. As in all things, our decisions will be driven by what is in the interest of public health. Gov. Whitmer has ordered a halt to large gatherings until April 5.

We have advised all registered attendees that they may cancel with a full refund.

 

Legislative approves $312 million in immediate spending

An additional $312.3 million in state spending was passed by the Legislature this week and sent to the governor’s desk for signature.

Senate Bill 151 contains adjustments for FY 2019-20, including:

  • $10 million for coronavirus public health emergency state and local preparedness and response activities
  • $15 million for the Coronavirus Response Fund
  • $5 million for High Water Infrastructure Repair grants
  • $1 million for county fairs, shows and expositions
  • $128,000 for the Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Council’s IT system
  • $500,000 for court-appointed special advocates
  • $3.2 million for behavioral health system redesign
  • $11.3 million to replace the MiSACWIS (child welfare IT system)
  • $16 million to support Pure Michigan
  • $37 million for 85 Michigan enhancement grants (specific special projects outline here

Muskegon County also was appropriated $2 million for the Muskegon Federally Qualified Health Center.

For more information on this issue, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

UP Natural Resources Commission bills introduced in House

A package of bills that would give more local control to the Upper Peninsula in how they regulate hunting and fishing has been introduced in the House. House Bills 5592-5594 and Joint Resolution Q would create the Upper Peninsula Natural Resources Commission and grant authority to the commission on decision-making concerning the UP’s vast hunting and fishing landscape.

Joint Resolution Q would alter the state constitution to create the UP Natural Resources Commission and supplant the authority of the Natural Resources Commission for the Upper Peninsula. The current Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) was created by Proposal G of 1996 when it passed overwhelmingly by over a million votes from Michiganders. The intent of the NRC was to “use sound scientific management in making decisions regarding the taking of game” and to set some Department of Natural Resources (DNR) policies and procedures. The Commission consists of seven members who are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Michigan Senate.

The commission has come under fire in recent years legislators for the approved ban on deer and elk baiting. Under the current ban the entire lower peninsula and parts of the upper peninsula are disallowed from using baits like corn or other vegetables in order to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). A bill that would’ve overturned the controversial order was vetoed late last year by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The UP Natural Resources Commission, just like the NRC, would consist of seven members, all of whom must be residents of the UP and all shall be appointed as follows: 1 appointment by each member of the House of Representatives that represent the UP; 2 appointments by the member of the Michigan Senate that represents the UP; and 2 appointments by the governor. The UP NRC would have the authority to make rules regarding the taking of game or sportfish that have any an impact on the UP. This resolution would go to the vote of the people.

The House bills, by Reps. Beau LaFave (R-Dickinson) and Greg Markkanen (R-Houghton) both from the UP, would make necessary changes to the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. HB 5592 would grant the new commission the ability to regulate all game, and HB 5593 would grant the commission the ability to regulate all fish. HB 5594 would create the commission statutorily. 

The three bills are tie-barred, which means they must all pass in order for them to go into effect. MAC has not yet taken a position on the bills.

For more information on this issue, contact Michael Ruddock at ruddock@micounties.org

 

MAC launches #ParticipationIsPower campaign on salary data

The Michigan Association of Counties, in partnership with Munetrix, a Michigan firm specializing in government data, has developed a new salary survey database and tool. The first phase of this tool will focus solely on sheriff deputies and their pay and benefits. This tool is designed in response to our members voicing their concern about the increasing cost of salary surveys. This our first step in providing a more robust salary survey tool that covers all departments and will be consistently updated.

“This cloud-based system was developed for ease of use by participating members,” said Stephan Currie, MAC’s executive director. “And MAC and Munetrix are committed to providing staff and training support to ensure our members get the maximum value from their participation. Our motto is #ParticipationIsPower.”

Munetrix already has conducted multiple training webinars on how to upload data to the system. If you did not participate in one, you can view a recording of a session below.

Salary Survey Training Webinar

Please check the Munetrix page on the MAC website regularly for additional updates as the Salary Survey is rolled out to members.

 

 

Voters give broad approval to county millage requests

Voters showed strong support for county millage requests in elections this week, with 35 of 38 county requests gaining approval in unofficial results tallied by the MIRS News Service in Lansing.

Requests were primarily renewals of existing levies to support everything from public health and veterans services, to public transportation and 911 services.

In Dickinson County voters rejected a public health millage increase but did renew an existing PH levy. Voters in the same county rejected a new levy for conservation districts.

And Saginaw County voters rejected a new levy for MSU Extension.

 

 

National news from NACo

 

DHHS budget receives mixed response in committee session

DHHS Director Robert Gordon

As Appropriations subcommittees began work this week on the FY21 budget, Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon presented on his department’s plans in the areas of education and skills; health and families; and climate and water.

While the DHHS budget, overall, is $26 billion, Gordon said the agency consistently has to do more with less. The Legislature has been concerned with spending in the past few budget cycles, specifically as it relates to the management of IT systems and significantly reined in the spending. Gordon discussed the number of freezes initiated on the IT development and increased financial oversight through a DHHS/DTMB governance board.

Deputy Director George Mellos also presented on the departments behavioral health system transformation project that would include new specialty integrated Medicaid plans. The department wants SIPs to manage physical and behavioral health for those with significant needs and allow the community mental health providers to provide safety net services.

Additionally, the director highlighted the governor’s recommendation to increase psychiatric staffing. Northern Michigan legislators reiterated their view of a need for a facility located in Northern Michigan. Rep. Sue Allor (R-Cheboygan) noted that patient transportation from northern counties to the Caro Center in Tuscola County can keep deputies away from other duties for several days.

Lastly, the department highlighted the $5.1 million (General Fund) increase in non-Medicaid funding to community mental health providers. This, however, is coming at the expense of a $5 million increase in the local match rate for counties. In FY20, the Legislature included $5 million to start phasing out the $25 million local match amount required under section 928. The governor reversed this trend in her FY21 budget and moved it to the non-Medicaid line. MAC supports the legislative initiative to phase out the local match requirement and will advocate to have it restored as the departmental budget moves through the Legislature.

For more information on this issue, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

MAC meets with leaders for clerks, treasurers, RDs

MAC Board President Veronica Klinefelt and Executive Director Stephan Currie met this week with leaders of groups for Michigan clerks, treasurers and registers of deeds to discuss legislative priorities for 2020.

MAC’s Deena Bosworth and Meghann Keit briefed on a variety of MAC priorities, ranging from extending the sunset on trial court fee authority to revenue sharing.

Also discussed were bills on the tax foreclosure process; legislation to allow pre-processing of absentee ballots in the wake of Proposal 3’s liberalization of absentee voting; legislation to waive renewal fees for concealed carry permits; and proposed changes to the Open Meetings Act.

“This was an excellent discussion on the numerous issues where our organizations’ members can collaborate for everyone’s benefit,” said Stephan Currie, MAC’s executive director.

MAC appreciates the county leaders who were able to attend in person or by teleconference:

  • Michael Hanley, Saginaw County clerk
  • Laura Brandon-Maveal, Gladwin County clerk and president of the Michigan Association of County Clerks
  • Catherine McClary, Washtenaw County treasurer
  • Patty Niepoth, Antrim County register of deeds
  • Bob Robinson, Eaton County treasurer and second vice president of the Michigan Association of County Treasurers
  • Stewart Sanders, Newaygo County register of deeds and president of the Michigan Association of Registers of Deeds

MAC launched these “county summits” in early 2019 to foster communication and cooperation among the various groups representing county government offices in Michigan. Next week, MAC will host leaders from the groups representing sheriffs and prosecutors.

 

Time to register for 2020 Legislative Conference

The 2020 Michigan Counties Legislative Conference will feature a variety of speakers and events to enhance county officials’ learning and leadership skills.

Please note that this year’s conference runs Wednesday through Friday, April 15-17.

Among the highlights:

  • Plenary sessions on legislative priorities, jail reform proposals and county revenue trends
  • Remarks from senior state officials (Chief Justice Bridget McCormack will headline the panel)
  • 12 workshops designed for MAC members and affiliates over three days.
  • A Legislative Reception on Wednesday evening
  • An Exhibitor Show Reception featuring complimentary beverages and snacks

The conference’s early-bird fee is just $350 for county members, which includes all commissioners, county administrators, medical care facility administrators, treasurers, prosecutors, sheriffs, clerks and registers of deeds. Please note: The early-bird rate ends on March 20, so register soon.

The conference hotel, the Radisson, is offering a special room rate of $135.95 for the event, and is connected to the main conference venue, the Lansing Center, by an enclosed pedestrian ramp.

Complete details are available in our handy Registration Packet.

Or you can begin your registration process by clicking this link. Please remember: All registrations are online only.

 

Fiscal training schedule stretches from Iron River to Lapeer

Training sessions designed to help county leaders on capital project planning and general financial oversight will begin March 4 and continue through the summer.

The Fiscally Ready Communities team, a joint project of the state Treasury Department and MSU Extension, will lead the sessions on capital asset management and planning and general financial oversight!

Please note: These sessions are eligible for credit in MAC’s County Commissioner Academy program. 

Each training is half-day and is FREE. The material is designed for basic to intermediate knowledge or a refresher course for those with advanced knowledge.

Dates and locations for capital planning sessions are:

  • March 4 – Ann Arbor
  • April 2 – Lapeer
  • April 28 – Madison Heights
  • May 14 – Kalamazoo
  • June 11 – Grayling
  • July 8 – Iron River
  • July 9 – St. Ignace
  • Sept. 9 – Saginaw

Plans also are being finalized for sessions in Big Rapids in August. Check the website for updates.

For times and venues, see the registration page. To register for the capital trainings, visit https://events.anr.msu.edu/FRC2020/

Additionally, the team will be leading one Financial Best Practices Overview training on Thursday, May 7 in Grayling, plus a webinar planned for the fall. This training was created in 2019 to provide local governments with information on best practices and policies and procedures.

To register for the high-level overview on May 7 in Grayling, visit https://events.anr.msu.edu/FRC2020/

Please check  Michigan.gov/FiscallyReady for additional information.

 

State offers $250,000 in anti-blight grants to small counties

The State Land Bank Authority has launched a second round of Michigan Rural Community Demolition Grants. Smaller communities in Michigan can apply for a $50,000 grant to help eliminate blight and revitalize their communities.

The funds, available to Michigan county land banks and local units of government in counties with populations under 50,000, are designed to help communities remove vacant and abandoned structures from their neighborhoods and prepare for future developments that spark business investment and provide good jobs for residents. Applications are due Friday, March 13 at 5 p.m.

The maximum award per proposal is $50,000 and can be used toward vacant and abandoned, blighted commercial or residential structures. Proposals will be evaluated based on their anticipated impact in promoting public safety, enhancing economic development, public and private investment in the project and alignment with the community vision or other placemaking efforts.

For more information, visit Michigan.gov/LandBank.

 

Listening sessions on opioid crisis continue March 12

The Michigan Opioids Task Force and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) are hosting a town hall Thursday, March 12, 5:30-6:30 p.m., at the Sterling Heights Community Center, 40250 Dodge Park Road. 

MDHHS and the Michigan Opioids Task Force will share its strategy to address the opioids crisis, seek information about how the opioid epidemic has impacted those in attendance and host a Q&A about the crisis response.

“Information gathered during this event and other town halls will help the state develop a crisis response that is flexible; effective to fit the needs of communities from Detroit to Grand Rapids to Marquette; and informed by the experiences of Michiganders affected by the crisis. About 150 people attended a similar town hall in Detroit in January,” said MDHHS in a statement.

Future sessions will be in:

  • Gaylord on Friday, July 24
  • Escanaba on Wednesday, July 29
  • Flint on Friday, Sept. 25
  • Grand Rapids on Friday, Nov. 6

For more information about the state’s opioids response and available resources, visit Michigan.gov/opioids.

 

Animal welfare grants issued to county shelters

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is issuing $127,240 to 23 recipients of the 2020 Animal Welfare Fund grants. The grants help support the spaying and neutering of shelter dogs and cats to help them be more adoptable. Grants also help support many anti-cruelty and proper care programs and training around the state. Registered shelters also can receive assistance through the grant program for the unrecovered costs of care for animals involved in legal investigations.

“The Animal Welfare Fund is supported by generous Michiganders during tax season when they check the fund’s box on Form 4642, Voluntary Contributions Schedule, with their state tax returns. Since 2010, MDARD has distributed more than $1.3 million to more than 185 local animal shelters. One hundred percent of the contributions made to this fund are used for Michigan animal welfare programs,” MDARD said in a statement.

Among county facilities receiving grants were:

  • Cass County Animal Shelter – $10,000
  • Gratiot County Animal Shelter – $5,000 
  • Kalkaska County Animal Shelter – $2,940
  • Macomb County Animal Shelter – $1,490
  • Newaygo County Animal Shelter – $874
  • Roscommon County Animal Shelter – $10,000
  • Saginaw County Animal Care Center – $8,000
  • St. Clair County Animal Control Shelter – $6,000
  • St. Joseph County Animal Shelter – $7,520

Please note that best practices for animal shelters will be the topic of a workshop at this year’s Legislative Conference in Lansing, April 15-17. For details on the workshop and registering for the conference, check out our Attendee Registration Packet.

For more information on the program, click here.

 

National news from NACo

The 2020 Michigan Counties Legislative Conference will feature a variety of speakers and events to enhance county officials’ learning and leadership skills.

Please note that this year’s conference runs Wednesday through Friday, April 15-17.

Among the highlights:

  • Plenary sessions on legislative priorities, jail reform proposals and county revenue trends
  • Remarks from senior state officials (Chief Justice Bridget McCormack and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist have been invited to attend)
  • 12 workshops designed for MAC members and affiliates over three days.
  • A Legislative Reception on Wednesday evening
  • An Exhibitor Show Reception featuring complimentary beverages and snacks

The conference’s early-bird fee is just $350 for county members, which includes all commissioners, county administrators, medical care facility administrators, treasurers, prosecutors, sheriffs, clerks and registers of deeds. Please note: The early-bird rate ends on March 20, so register soon.

The conference hotel, the Radisson, is offering a special room rate of $135.95 for the event, and is connected to the main conference venue, the Lansing Center, by an enclosed pedestrian ramp.

Complete details are available in our handy Registration Packet.

Or you can begin your registration process by clicking this link. Please remember: All registrations are online only.

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