Parks millage proposed
As you might know from recent news coverage, the Board of Commissioners is currently considering a millage to support the County’s parks and to create and maintain a County trail system. The details are still being worked out – in fact, the millage language has yet to be presented to the entire Board. But the ballot language proposed by the Parks Commission reads in pertinent part as follows:
“Ingham County proposes to create and maintain a county system of recreational trails and parks. This system will incorporate current parks, may incorporate trails or parks previously created by local units of government, [and] may acquire rights of way to connect and extend existing trails.”
At this point, a 0.5 mill-tax is being considered; that amounts to $50 annually for every $100,000 of a property’s taxable value. The millage would raise approximately $3.2 million in additional revenue yearly. If ballot language is approved by the Board of Commissioners, the millage request would be on the Nov. 4, 2014, ballot.
Frankly, right now, I have more questions than answers about the millage. But I welcome your input. Feel free to email me your thoughts or concerns.
Goodbye to two great leaders
On Tuesday, Jan. 28, the Board of Commissioners paid tribute to two great public servants who are leaving their positions with Ingham County: Renee Branch Canady, Ph.D., and Jamie McAloon Lampman. Dr. Canady has served as Ingham County’s health officer since 2011, but she has been an integral part of the Health Department team since 2007. As Health Officer, Dr. Canady oversaw the expansion of the County’s health clinics, directly improving the health of our residents. She is recognized as a leader in working to eliminate inequities in healthcare. She leaves the Health Department to serve as CEO of the Michigan Public Health Institute.
Ms. Lampman has served as Ingham County’s Animal Control Director for the past nine years. She is credited with transforming the County’s Animal Shelter into a humane, comfortable facility. Ms. Lampman also worked to ensure that animals outside the shelter are treated humanely as well: she added an animal-cruelty investigator position to investigate alleged animal neglect or mistreatment. Ms. Lampman took a proactive approach to controlling the pet population by requiring that all animals adopted from the shelter be spayed or neutered first. She leaves the shelter after a milestone year: 2013 was the first year that no animals were euthanized because of overcrowding. Ms. Lampman is moving to Tennessee to take a position at a shelter in Chattanooga. (Read more about Ms. Lampman's work here.)
I wish Dr. Canady and Ms. Lampman the best in their future endeavors. They have raised the bar for public service in Ingham County. The Board of Commissioners is currently searching for new leaders who we hope will meet the high standards set at the Health Department and the Animal Control Department.
Court of Claims moves to appellate court
Less than a month ago, Governor Snyder signed a bill into law that makes several significant changes to Michigan’s judicial system. Most notably for Ingham County residents, the law moves the Court of Claims from our circuit court and – with it – up to $500,000 in reimbursement to Ingham County from the state of Michigan.
This bill met with bipartisan opposition from a wide swath: sitting judges, judicial and state policy experts, constitutional scholars, our county’s administrators, and the media. But that didn’t stop the state legislature and the governor from hastily passing the law and giving it immediate effect. Now, four Michigan Court of Appeals judges will each preside over trials brought against the state. Previously, Ingham Circuit trial judges heard these cases.
Ingham County might receive some relief from the large hole left in its circuit court budget (which was passed just weeks before the Court of Claims bill was introduced). Our circuit court has entered into an agreement to help the Court of Appeals add the new function of trial court. Ingham County will be reimbursed for the potentially considerable expense involved in making this transition.
To the non-attorney, the difference between a trial and appellate court might not seem significant. But the two levels of jurisprudence function quite differently. For example, trial courts oversee discovery – the process that the parties use to identify and share evidence. Trial judges hear testimony from witnesses. In short, they decide which facts are significant to a case. Appellate courts consider only the trial court record and the attorneys’ arguments. The appellate judges selected to preside over Court of Claims trials will undoubtedly do a competent job; it’s just that presiding over trials will be a new job for them – strictly speaking, not the job that they were elected to do.
Ingham County seeks promised pension funding from City of Lansing
Ingham County made more news recently for pursuing funding for former Lansing employees’ pensions. When the county consolidated the emergency dispatch functions of the cities of Lansing and East Lansing, the two cities agreed to transfer their dispatch employees’ pension funds to the county. East Lansing immediately transferred its employees’ funds, but the City of Lansing continues to dispute the amount of its obligation.
To temporarily fund the former Lansing dispatchers’ pensions, the Board of Commissioners approved a transfer of up to $1.5 million. Once the City of Lansing finally provides funding for its former employees, the county will move this money back to its general fund.
Volunteers, donors improve life in Ingham County
What do the Tri-County Office on Aging and the Ingham County Animal Shelter have in common? Both agencies work hard throughout the year to raise money for its services and projects, and the populations served by both reap the benefits of a multitude of dedicated volunteers. These volunteers and donors deserve our community's thanks!
As a member of TCOA’s administrative board, I had the privilege of attending its Annual Dinner and Auction last month. I was impressed by the huge turnout, the number and quality of items donated to the auction, and the generosity of donors. The dinner and auction raised $53,000 – the largest amount in the event’s 28 years. Proceeds benefit Meals on Wheels and TCOA’s other in-home services for seniors.
The Animal Shelter recently reached a first-ever milestone: 2013 was the first year that the shelter did not have to euthanize any animals because of overcrowding. This was possible because of the donated time and resources that allowed the Animal Shelter to spay or neuter animals and to provide food and vaccinations at little or no cost.
The Animal Shelter will host its Holiday Open House on Saturday, Dec. 7, from 12 noon to 4 p.m. There will be a silent auction and reduced prices for adoptions and micro-chipping. Santa will be there, and so will the shelter’s mascot, Chippy.
Paid for by
Elect Kara Hope
1891 Maple Street
Holt MI 48842
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here belong to Kara Hope. They should not be construed as representing the official or unofficial position of the Ingham County Board of Commissioners or any county department or employee. No taxpayer funds are spent on this website.
Paid for by Kara Hope for State Representative
P.O. Box 21002
Lansing, Michigan 48909
P.O. Box 21002
Lansing, Michigan 48909