LANSING, MICH. – A state panel charged with recommending reforms to Michigan’s trial court system issued an interim report today with five proposals that offer promise for solutions to this longstanding challenge, but counties see much work remains in Lansing on this issue. The Trial Court Funding Commission released its work early due to pending litigation (People v. Cameron) at the Michigan Supreme Court that could affect the current funding streams for trial courts.

“These recommendations are a solid beginning on this vital issue. MAC is grateful for the work of Monroe County Administrator Michael Bosanac and his colleagues on the commission,” said Stephan Currie, executive director of the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC). “However, the central challenge remains – finding a stable, comprehensive funding system for our courts. With the potential effects of a Cameron decision looming, counties are eager to get to work with lawmakers on a permanent funding fix.” The commission’s interim report highlights five recommendations:

· Establish a stable court funding system

· Provide all court technology needs

· Establish uniform assessments and centralized collections

· Move toward a uniform employment system

· Establish a transition plan for a new court funding model to be established by the Legislature

Trial courts are the largest unfunded mandate on county governments in Michigan, with local funding accounting for nearly half the $1.14 billion to $1.44 billion in estimated costs. The commission was formed by the Legislature in response to People v. Cunningham, a Michigan Supreme Court decision that determined state law does not provide trial courts with independent authority to impose any court cost on a convicted defendant. The commission will continue to meet until its statutory expiration of Sept. 28, 2019.

More than 300 county leaders from across Michigan heard Gov. Gretchen Whitmer make her case for increased infrastructure funding, arguing that Michigan must fund such work “at the pump.”

Whitmer made her comments during her keynote address to the conference on Tuesday, March 26 at the Lansing Center.

“On behalf of our members, I thank Gov. Whitmer for giving so generously of her time to talk to us this week about the challenges facing Michigan, particularly road funding,” said MAC Board President Ken Borton of Otsego County. “As front-line elected officials, county commissioners know all too well the frustrations of Michigan residents on infrastructure. We are eager to work with the governor and Legislature to find the necessary revenue and distribute it properly to get our roads back in proper shape.”

See her presentation in the 2019 Legislative Conference Presentations folder of the MAC archives.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed fiscal 2020 budget carries many positive notes for county government in Michigan, said the executive director of the Michigan Association of Counties.

“Obviously, it’s great to see the 3 percent increase in county revenue sharing funds, as revenue sharing is the key promise from the state to counties to help with delivery of vital local services,” said Stephan Currie, MAC’s executive director.

Whitmer’s budget, released today during a presentation in downtown Lansing, would move county revenue sharing totals to just over $228 million, up from the $221.4 million in the fiscal 2019 budget.

Two seats on the 16-member MAC Board of Directors will be filled by the membership during special elections at the 2019 Legislative Conference in Lansing.

The Region IV Caucus will meet on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 26 to fill a vacancy that runs through August 2019. All six MAC Caucuses meanwhile will meet on Tuesday, March 26 to fill an At-large vacancy that runs through August 2019. Details on voting procedures can be viewed here.

See MAC Region Map.

The following candidates are announced:

At-large

Scott Noesen, Midland County
I am running for the Michigan Association of Counties At-large Board seat at the 2019 MAC Legislative Conference.

After a 33-year career with Dow Chemical Company, I retired in 2008 and started up my own consulting firm to provide guidance to institutions on how to integrate the concepts of Sustainability into their business strategies. In 2015, I was elected as a county commissioner for Midland and am now in my third term as a commissioner. I currently chair the Midland County Finance Committee and serve on the Administration and Operations Committee. In 2017, I joined many of my fellow Michigan commissioners in Washington, D.C., for a first-ever meeting with the president’s staff to discuss issues of importance between our national government and its impact on county government

As of January 2019, I also chair the Northern Michigan Counties Association (NMCA), which gathers members from the northern most counties of Michigan and provides guidance to these counties on issues of common interest.

Over the last several years, I have served on both the Finance and Environmental Committees of MAC. Most recently, I was named by Gov. Rick Snyder as the MAC representative on the newly created Water Asset Management Council, a broad-based stakeholder group charged with providing guidance on the critical infrastructure needs related to water, including fresh water delivery, storm and sewer water

I am keenly interested in the relationship between state and local entities and am concerned about the long-term viability of county budgets in an environment of continued pressure from the state with new initiatives mandated by the state with little or no backup funding. As a board director, I will work hard to preserve the rights of the counties and make sure our voice is heard in Lansing and Washington.

Kyle Harris, Saginaw County
I was first elected to the Saginaw County Board in 2016, where I’ve been serving on the County Services Committee and Labor Relations Committee. Since first being elected, I wanted to be involved with MAC and have been serving on the following committees: Agriculture and Tourism; Transportation; and General Government, Chair. Outside of MAC, I have spent nine years working in the Michigan Legislature, assisting with various political campaigns and working with the family business that installs and refinishes hardwood floors.

I am interested in serving on the Board to advance my commitment and contributions to MAC and, by extension, the citizens of Michigan. To name a few specific things I would like to work on: increasing transportation funding to local roads by working with MAC staff and the Legislature to reduce the amount of money being siphoned off from PA 51 dollars; “pushing back” against the Legislature in their relentless effort to place more mandates on counties without updating the long-outdated funding formula for constitutional revenue sharing; and “best practices” from around the country to help Michigan counties succeed in getting ahead financially and providing top-notch services to their citizens.

Monica Sparks, Kent County
Hello fellow commissioners! My name is Monica Sparks. As a Kent County commissioner, I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work. May I earn your vote to serve as your advocate?

EFFORT: I will show up and invest my time in building alliances with local, state and federal officials to benefit all MAC. members regarding key issues that affect our counties.
EDUCATE: The full potential of MAC services is not being accessed by our county officials. I will learn to be a voice to share MAC services, to grow our membership and so current commissioners can utilize the educational and advocacy components needed to fully serve constituents.
EMPOWER: I will advocate for and support MAC members in their role. Our commissioners, county administration and staff work hard. Don’t they deserve to be confident and strong as they deliver much needed services in their county?

WHAT DO I VALUE AND SUPPORT?

  • Economic Mobility
  • Mental Health Services
  • Our Environment
  • Veteran and Senior Services
  • Treatment Courts
  • Farm Bill and Agriculture
  • Infrastructure Renewal
  • Affordable Housing
  • Those with Special Needs
  • Parks, Recreation and Tourism

I AM AN EXPERIENCED SERVANT LEADER:

  • Kent County Commissioner
  • Finance & Physical Resources Committee (Kent County Board of Commissioners)
  • Former, Planning Commissioner, City of Kentwood
  • Former Zoning Board of Appeals Commissioner, City of Kentwood
  • School Board President, Vista Academy
  • State of Michigan Licensed Real Estate Broker 20+ years
  • Certified SCORE Business Mentor and Counselor
  • Named ‘Diversity Business Leader of the Year’ Corp Magazine 2009
  • Selected ‘One of the 50 Most Influential Women,’ Grand Rapids Business Journal 2018
  • Wyoming Kentwood Chamber of Commerce
  • West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Advocates for Seniors Issues, Diversity and Legislative Committee
  • American Legion Auxiliary, D.W. Cassard Post 208

I recently joined MAC committees for Agriculture and Tourism; General Government; and Environmental, Natural Resources and Regulatory Affairs.

I am accessible, inclusive of all and would like to answer any questions you may have.
PHONE: 616.813.9397
EMAIL: MonicaSparks4KCC@Gmail.com
FACEBOOK: Monica Sparks Kent County Commissioner
Thank you for your time and consideration.

Region 4 (Thumb and Mid-Michigan)

Dwight Washington, Clinton County
After graduating from Harvard (M.Ed) and Michigan State University (BA & Ph.D), I initially pursued a career in health and human services, then made a mid-professional career change to environmental services. This background has been helpful during my two terms as a county commissioner, while specifically serving as a member of the Clinton County Public Health and Parks and Recreation committees.

I am an active member of MAC’s Health and Human Services and the Environmental committees. I am also a member of the National Association of Counties’ Environment, Energy & Land Use (EELU) Steering Committee, and will be part of the Inaugural Meeting for the Parks, Open Space and Trails Subcommittee. I am passionate about protecting Great Lakes water for present and future generations. I also advocate to state and federal leaders about the need for high quality water and water security, which includes; septic systems, storm water, invasive species, toxic plumes, water table levels, beach closures, potable water, lead pipes, river boating, and fishing holes. I have been nominated to the EPA Great Lakes Advisory Board and am optimistically waiting the completion of the review. Further, I have a keen interest in helping to hone a sustainable MAC position on present and future water challenges and new policies (including, but not limited to, “the Waters of the US” and the “Great Lakes Compact).”

As a new commissioner, both the board chair and the county administrator highlighted to me that the weight of our decisions can have an impact 10 to 15 years into the future. This level of responsibility makes me proud of my county and helps me to recognize the importance of wise decision-making. I’d like to represent Region 4 with the MAC Board of Directors to maximize the community benefits of our counties’ park systems and public health departments to improve local quality of life. Thank you for your consideration and, hopefully, vote.

Donald Parker, Livingston County
My commitment to public service has shaped my entire professional career. Although I am incredibly fortunate for my over 14 years of service to my constituents as a Livingston County Commissioner, I now seek the opportunity to advance the interests of all counties in the State of Michigan as a member of the Michigan Association of Counties Board of Directors. I believe that my deep appreciation for the vital role of county government, coupled with my dedication and passion, make me a strong candidate for the Board.

Recently, I have been at the forefront of MAC’s efforts in the area of indigent defense, advocating on behalf of the counties before both the State Senate Appropriations Committee and the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC), which will continue to be one of my highest priorities if elected to the Board. Also, as a Trustee on the Michigan Counties Worker’s Compensation Fund, I have demonstrated the ability to work collaboratively with other counties toward a common goal.

In addition, I am an attorney with over 14 years of experience in private practice. In 2007, the Michigan Attorney General appointed me as Livingston County Public Administrator, where I act on behalf of the State of Michigan in the administration of statutorily specified Estates and Decedent issues.

The opportunity to serve on the Michigan Association of Counties Board of Directors would be a tremendous honor. My experience in managing difficult assignments that involved molding consensus among multiple stakeholders in an organization of approximately 700 employees would provide real benefit to MAC and its mission. Thank you for your consideration.

MAC’s Deena Bosworth sat down with her advocacy counterparts from the Michigan Municipal League and Michigan Townships Association recently to discuss “the power of numbers and how we’re able to get more things done when we work together” on MML’s podcast, “Michigan Politics, Huh?”

“We are kind of like the social safety net. What we do isn’t necessarily sexy but until you are in that system you don’t pay attention to it, but once you are there it’s very, very important,” Bosworth said to explain the myriad responsibilities of county government in Michigan in the 21st century.