GT County Commissioners to discuss Twin Lakes ownership, funding for prison mental health and part-time employee health care

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Grand Traverse County Commissioners will kick off the new year with two meetings Wednesday, including a regular meeting where they will discuss the possible transfer of ownership of Twin Lakes Park from the county to the Township of Long Lake and the funding of mental health services in prison and health care for part-time employees. This meeting will be preceded by an organizational meeting in which the commissioners will vote on the new rules of the board of directors, the dates and times of the 2022 meetings and the appointments of the commissioners for the coming year.

Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation Commissioners voted in December to reject a proposal from the Township of Long Lake to take back ownership and maintenance of Twin Lakes Park (pictured) However, county commissioners have the final say on whether or not to approve a transfer of ownership and will consider the proposal on Wednesday. Long Lake Township Supervisor Ron Lemcool decided to reignite the conversation on Twin Lakes – a recurring topic over the past decades – after township leaders recently embarked on a future planning process and noted an increase in l activity in other township parks. “Our parks in Long Lake Township are very crowded… one of the things we looked at with Twin Lakes is how do we improve this park and make more use of park ownership? Lemcool has already said The Ticker.

As part of its proposal, the Township of Long Lake is seeking ongoing annual funding of $ 50,000 from Grand Traverse County for four years for “ongoing maintenance and improvements,” a request that has challenged some. parks and recreation commissioners. Board Chair Alisa Korn said the funding request was “not on the table”, adding that “we literally don’t have (the money)… we don’t have the tools to negotiate your request “. Korn said if Parks and Recreation had this kind of funding, the department would already put it into the park.

In the presentation materials, Lemcool said Long Lake will make a number of improvements to improve community use at Twin Lakes as part of the transfer. Potential uses include the use of a park chalet to create a satellite library for the Township of Long Lake, the organization of a music festival on the lawn near Gilbert Lodge, the establishment of a hill for sledding and warming homes, creating a single track for fat tire / mountain biking, having a fishing pier on the North Twin Lakes and acquiring ‘a few small plots of property around the park to add a buffer zone to prevent future growth of the township from moving closer to the park ”. Long Lake’s proposal also calls for potential improvements to cabins, dormitories, and the on-site Gilbert Lodge, such as kitchen and deck upgrades that could accommodate more events and provide an “expanded outdoor experience.” with better views of the lake ”.

Parks and Recreation Commissioners ultimately voted to continue operating Twin Lakes as a county park, with the caveat that County Commissioners may consider the proposal separately and / or Parks and Recreation may revisit the idea at the same time. ‘to come up. “It’s not a brick wall,” Korn said of the board’s decision in December. County Commissioner Penny Morris, who sits on the Parks and Recreation Council, said her ultimate goal would be to ensure parks and recreation do not lose funding from their budget if a transfer of ownership occurs and see Twin Lakes remain a “well groomed for and welcoming” community use no matter who maintains it.

County commissioners will also discuss two fundraising items on Wednesday that were raised in December when the board voted to approve the 2022 county budget. This meeting has gone on for a long time due to extensive discussion of a proposal. from the sheriff’s office to purchase a new armored vehicle for $ 260,599, leaving little time to discuss other items in the budget, such as a proposal to extend county health benefits to elected officials. Commissioner Betsy Coffia asked why the council would offer these benefits to commissioners – a decision that would take effect in 2023, to avoid directly benefiting the current commission – but not consider providing health care to other employees part-time county. “What would it cost us to extend family health care benefits in the same way that we are currently offered for ourselves to all of our part-time employees?” ” she asked. While county administrator Nate Alger said he believed elected officials were working longer hours than part-time and the comparison was not “apples to apples,” Coffia asked have a board level discussion about the potential costs involved in expanding the program.

Coffia also echoed comments from several members of the public who criticized the sheriff’s office last month’s request to purchase an armored vehicle in 2022, wondering why this funding was not more for mental health services in Grand Traverse County Jail. In a recent memo, Coffia noted that a previous county contract with Northern Lakes Community Mental Health for prison services had expired a year ago, leaving inmates without access to two mental health professionals who previously worked in prison. The sheriff’s office has not requested any funding in its 2022 budget to close that gap, said Coffia, who asked the department to provide an update on the state of mental health services at Wednesday’s meeting.

Finally, county commissioners will begin on Wednesday with an organizational meeting to vote on new board rules, dates and times for 2022 meetings and commissioner appointments for the coming year. County commissioners are still offered to meet on Wednesdays at 8 a.m. in 2022, with regular meetings typically held on the first and third Wednesday of the month and study sessions (in which commissioners do not vote but discuss a particular topic in depth and sometimes give informal direction to staff) on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, as needed. The proposed changes to board rules in 2022 only include the authorization of commissioners to vote on board salary increases before the primary election filing deadline, with increases to come into effect at the start of the year. next term; only allow commissioners to vote remotely at meetings if they are absent due to military service; and require any commissioner, department head, elected official or chair of any Grand Traverse County council, authority or public commission wishing to place an item on the agenda of a meeting to provide the documentation to the county administrator for this matter before 3:00 p.m. on the Monday of the week preceding the meeting.


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