2020 COVID-19 Pandemic Response
Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic quickly became the Board's primary focus during 2020. Throughout the year, the Board allocated funding for grant programs, spearheaded new initiatives, adjusted operations to ensure virtual access to meetings and found new ways to reach constituents.
2020 COVID-19 Relief Funds at Work in Our Community
When the COVID-19 pandemic first began impacting the residents and businesses of Oakland County, the Board of Commissioners was poised to lead the state in its response. The Board played a critical role throughout 2020 as it allocated and approved funds to be used for coronavirus relief efforts. These decisions helped award grants directly to small businesses, communities, families and individuals throughout the county.
In our community, that included:
- $3 million for small businesses in Auburn Hills
- $3.9 million for small businesses in Rochester Hills
- $7.5 million for small businesses in Troy
- $3.3 for communities, families and individuals in Auburn Hills
- $2.2 million for communities, families and individuals in Rochester Hills
- $6.3 million for communities, families and individuals in Troy
In our district, a total of $14.4 million was dedicated to small businesses, which includes retail stores, restaurants, personal and professional services, contractors, salons and fitness centers. These grants supported businesses with unexpected costs, encouraged manufacturers to produce supplies necessary to aiding in keeping people safe, helped organizations reopen, allowed local chambers of commerce help participants address business interruptions caused by COVID-19 and much more.
A total of $11.8 million was awarded directly to our district's local governments, educational institutions, non-profits, seniors, individuals, veterans, and libraries and community centers. With these funds, cultural institutions implemented safety procedures for visitors and employees; organizations reached vulnerable seniors with groceries and social connection; veterans and other individuals received assistance to cover basic living costs; local schools implemented new learning opportunities; non-profits found new ways to serve residents; and much more.
For a complete breakdown of the COVID-19 small business grants awarded throughout Oakland County in 2020, visit bit.ly/SBMapOC. For a complete breakdown of grants awarded to communities, families and individuals, visit bit.ly/ComMapOC.
New Initiatives Support Residents
The Board spearheaded several programs during 2020 to support residents with necessary services during the pandemic. The Safe for School Hotline launched in the fall, in partnership with Beaumont Health, to assist parents and guardians by pre-screening and identifying potential illness in students prior to entering a school. In partnership with county administration and Oakland Schools, we also developed the Oakland Together School Nurse Initiative. Through this partnership, the Oakland County Health Division (OCHD) hired public health nurses to serve in local school districts to address COVID-19-related concerns. In addition, the Board established the Senior Isolation Task Force, which helped launch the Oakland Together Lifeline Program. Through this initiative, participants at select senior living residences across Oakland County were given Amazon Echo Show devices and trained on how to use them for basic tasks. Participants can use the devices to speak with and see family members who may be unable to visit, ask Alexa for information and more.
Wherever we could, we assisted with additional county efforts related to the coronavirus pandemic. From the beginning, we supported countywide testing locations, assisted the health division in reaching our communities, shared information about workforce development programs and remained in contact with our constituents.
In addition, the Board shifted its meetings to a virtual platform, which allowed anyone to safely access meetings and participate in public comment remotely.
For COVID-19 resources, please visit www.oakgov.com/covid.
Local Road Funding
Local roads continue to be a source of frustration for many Oakland County residents and visitors. That is why the county's Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP) and Tri-Party Partnership both aim to provide support to the local governments responsible for our area roads.
Launched by the Board in 2016, the LRIP is an effective means for encouraging investment in local roads. The program helps Oakland County cities and villages with limited financial assistance for repairs and improvements on roadways under their jurisdiction. It ensures that the county investment in roads is multiplied by requiring local municipalities to match funding from Oakland County.
We have worked diligently to obtain much needed road funding for the communities in our district by securing county funds for high priority road repairs and improvements. During 2020, I am proud that a total of $416,445 was secured for local communities, funding that was wisely leveraged towards projects equaling $5,511,909 in road infrastructure investment.
To report poor road conditions on county roads, call the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) at 877-858-4804 or visit their website. To report poor road conditions on local city or village roads, contact your local city or village government.
FY2021 - FY2023 Budget Approval
Every year, the Board of Commissioners works to adopt an annual budget plan and work program to fund the operations of county departments. The Board approved the FY 2021-FY 2023 Budget & General Appropriations Act in September 2020.
The three-year budget was first proposed by County Executive David Coulter to the Board of Commissioners on July 1, 2020. The Finance and Infrastructure Committee conducted an in-depth review of the plan and hosted 21 budget hearings with department heads in the months following the original proposal. The bipartisan vote was the result of a budget agreement that outlined a plan to utilize county resources to fund public health, economic recovery efforts, public safety and other efforts including:
- local and county roads across Oakland County
- a public-private partnership supporting Oakland County communities interested in the adoption and implementation of community policing initiatives
- architectural and design plans associated with a county public safety training facility and Emergency Operations Center
- the clean-up of the green ooze waste site in Madison Heights
- a landlord risk mitigation fund to increase access to affordable housing programs
Visit the Fiscal Services website for the most recent and detailed information about the county budget.
Women's Suffrage Celebration Spans 12 Months
The year 2020 marked the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guaranteed women the right to vote. In March 2019, the Board of Commissioners established the Celebration of Women's Suffrage Ad Hoc Committee to honor of this important milestone in our nation's history.
From June 2019 to June 2020, the committee invited Oakland County residents to learn more about the history of women's suffrage through a variety of exciting programming and events. This included a film screening of Iron Jawed Angels, the "I Voted!" sticker contest, a special speaker series and more.
Read more about the celebration here.
County Honors Bicentennial
Oakland County celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2020, and commissioners were there to join in the festivities. Although a few events were postponed due to the pandemic, the county distributed oak tree seedlings to community partners, and the Board installed a plaque at the Commissioners Auditorium to recognize the occasion.
The Board, with the support of the County Executive, distributed 5,000 oak tree seedlings to more than 50 cities, villages and school districts in May 2020. Oak trees are intertwined with the county's history and provide great ecological benefits for the region. They were among the first signs of Oakland County's rich natural resources, indicating to surveyors looking for farmable land that water was present. Although there is no official account, it is probable that the county's name was also influenced by the abundance of oak trees, and according to historical records, the county's oak tree seal was inspired by a white oak that was photographed by Darwin Catlin in 1959. Read more about the seedlings here.
In addition, the Board installed a commemorative plaque outside of the Commissioners Auditorium to mark the county's bicentennial. The plaque was unveiled in December 2020 and includes the commissioners who were on the Board at the time of the 200th anniversary. Watch a video of the unveiling here.
Better with Breakfast Recognized with NACo Achievement Award
The Oakland County Board of Commissioners was honored with an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo) in 2020 for the Oakland County Better with Breakfast program.
In March 2019, the Board announced its partnership with United Way for Southeastern Michigan and Oakland Schools, the county's intermediate school district, to implement Michigan's largest countywide universal school breakfast program. Since then, Oakland County Better with Breakfast has provided breakfast to all students in Oakland County public schools where more than 40 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Through the program, qualifying school buildings have been supplied with equipment, technical support and food to provide breakfast to every student in participating school buildings.
By providing all students breakfast, the program helps reduce the stigma of accepting the food for those who do qualify and ensure all students are ready to learn. In addition, federal reimbursement dollars for schools have increased as breakfast access has increased. Through Oakland County Better with Breakfast, an additional 2,500 students in 33 school buildings have had access to free school breakfast.