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Commission reviews 2-year budget, seeking long-term fiscal stability

Dear resident:

As a member of the Commission's Committee on Ways and Means, I have been busy working with the executive's office in approving a two-year comprehensive budget aimed at continuing the progress of the last fiscal year and seeking to strengthen the foundation for the county's long-term fiscal stability.

My colleagues and I on the committee have been listening closely to the concerns of all county department heads in their quest to continue the ongoing services that meet the needs of Wayne County residents.

We are performing our due diligence in asking the pertinent questions, listening closely to those responding and sharing thoughts and ideas on how the county can run more efficiently in serving its residents and businesses.

The proposed budget before the committee is for fiscal years 2016-17 and 2017-18 and totals $1.5 billion for each year. Emphasis has been placed on continuing to build on the county's fiscal stabilization, and this two-year budget focuses on investing in public safety and technology.

Securing the county's financial future through strategic, long-term planning has been a priority of the present administration, and has created a financial culture resulting in monumental improvements in its financial status.

We, as a county, are committed to finding innovative ways to stretch tax dollars to fund programs and services that improve the quality of life for all residents. We will remain focused in order to make our county financially stable again.

Wayne County's fiscal year begins October 1, and I am confident that we will have approval of a budget by the end of September and prove once again that county government can work together and appropriately serve its residents.

Sincerely, Martha G. Scott, Wayne County Commissioner

Commission moves forward on completion of jail project

Wayne County's plans to complete the unfinished jail in downtown Detroit are continuing to move forward as the county this summer hired consulting firm Carter Goble Associates, in addition to reaching a settlement with the original design engineers and architects.

County commissioners in July approved a nearly $4 million contract with Carter Goble to serve as the county's owner representative on any future decisions for the jail site.

The commission also approved a settlement with AECOM and Ghafari Associates LLC, providing the county with a $2.5 million payment from the firms, ownership of the design documents and dismissal of any further counter-claims.

"These decisions are significant in the county's bid to resolve this ongoing issue," Commissioner Martha G. Scott said. "We reached some important settlements and can now focus on completing this jail project."

Carter Goble has been hired to develop and issue design/build RFPs (request for proposal), review RFPs and contractor selection, along with review plans and management of the project budget.

"With Carter Goble in place, we will be able to avoid the previous failure of not having a consistent owner's representative to oversee this massive project," Commissioner Scott said.

Voters approve county parks millage renewal

Wayne County voters in August decisively approved the renewal of a tax funding county parks, and distributing money to communities for improvements in their parks, as well.

The proposal, approved by 76 percent of voters, will continue the millage through 2020 and is expected to generate $9.9 million next year.

The parks levy is just under one-quarter of a mill and will appear on winter tax bills.

A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's taxable value and, in approximate terms, the tax costs $12.30 per year on a home that is worth $100,000.

"This show of support confirms just how much parks are an asset to the community, and now we can continue to provide Wayne County residents joyous experiences they will treasure for a long time to come," Commissioner Martha G. Scott said.

County resolution urges repeal of state fireworks law

A resolution calling for the repeal of the state law that allows the widespread sale and use of commercialgrade fireworks was unanimously approved by the full Commission on July 21.

Commissioners stressed that complaints from residents have increased each year since the state eased restrictions on fireworks, starting in 2012.

"Lansing has not been listening to the people who are most affected by changes in the law," Commissioner Martha G. Scott said. "I doubt anyone realized when the change was made how much of an affect it would have on our neighborhoods.

"I have heard from many residents how concerned they really are of the dangers posed by these types of fireworks."
The Legislature approved the so-called Fireworks Safety Act in 2011, which legalized the sale, distribution and use of a wide variety of commercial-grade aerial fireworks that were previously prohibited in Michigan. It was approved by wide margins in both the House and Senate, with the argument that it would bring tax revenue into Michigan.

The resolution urges support for bills to repeal the fireworks laws that have been introduced in the Legislature by Sen. David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights and Rep. Henry Yanez, D-Sterling Heights.

Copies of the resolution will be sent to state representatives and senators as well as Governor Rick Snyder.

DWSD to add new parcels for equitable drainage billing

In an effort to ensure all property classes are fairly and equitably billed, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) will add more than 20,000 parcels to its billing system beginning October 2016. Included will be parcels that do not receive a water bill such as surface parking lots but drain into the city's combined sewer system.

Adding never-billed parcels is the first phase of the 36-month program to transition all parcels to a fair and equitable rate based on impervious-acreage billing. Impervious surfaces are roofs, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots and similar hard surfaces that prevent or limit the ability of storm water to soak into the ground. Residential customers will be included beginning in July 2017, the last phase of the program.

To learn more about the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, make payments or report water problems, call Customer Care at 313-267-8000 or visit online at www.detroitmi.gov/dwsd.

RSVP provides opportunities for you to match your skills

The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) connects volunteers age 55 and over with service opportunities in their communities that match their skills and availability. RSVP volunteers can choose how and where they will serve.

Volunteers provide hundreds of community services at nonprofit agencies, such as:

  • Mentoring or tutoring children.
  • Providing literacy assistance to adults.
  • Providing in-home services such as Meals on Wheels and companionship calls.
  • Providing services for healthy futures by working with local health care agencies/ hospitals to enhance health care services.
  • Offering relief services to victims of natural disasters and much more.
For more information, visit online at www. csswayne.org/senior-volunteer-services.