It is an honor to serve you, and it brings me great pride to represent our community on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners. As we adapt and move forward through the challenges and opportunities of our time, the Board continues to support Oakland County's residents, businesses and organizations. This annual district report provides highlights of the Board's work in 2021 and how those initiatives have impacted our community. I welcome your questions or comments, and I invite you to contact me at any time. Thank you.
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2021 ARPA Funding and COVID-19 Update
The Board's COVID-19 response and recovery efforts continued in 2021. Following 2020's federal CARES Act funding, Oakland County received its first round of funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). This included $122 million to help local governments and their residents recover from the pandemic.
The Board identified five areas of focus to help determine how to use these funds to best serve the needs of Oakland County residents: Prosperous Communities; Sustainable Environment and Infrastructure; Robust Economy; Fiscal Health; and Strengthening Healthcare. Through smaller study groups, commissioners continue to research and discuss how to allocate these federal dollars to make the most positive impact in their communities.
In 2021, the Board appropriated a portion of the county's ARPA funding, including:
- $6.6 million for skilled and educated workforce program funding
- $315,000 for the "Unlocking Doors Oakland" Program, which provides rental housing access assistance
- $15 million for targeted investments to address immediate community needs
- $10 million for the county's pandemic response and recovery operational expenses
- $2 million for the Mental Health and Wellbeing Emergency Room Services and Grant Program
- The Board has also allocated $2.4 million for a community matching grant program for critical infrastructure projects.
In addition to directing funding to where it's needed most in the community, the Board supported the county administration's rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and ongoing testing efforts. More than 880,000 Oakland County residents received a COVID-19 vaccine last year. Including additional or booster doses, more than 1.9 million doses were administered within Oakland County by more than 600 providers. The Oakland County Health Division gave more than 200,000 of those doses at over 1,000 events hosted at 183 different locations throughout the county.
For up-to-date COVID-19 resources and information for residents and businesses, please visit www.oakgov.com/covid.
Board of Commissioners unanimously adopts 2022-2024 Oakland County triennial budget
Each year, the Board of Commissioners works to adopt an annual budget plan and work program to fund the operations of county departments. The Board unanimously approved the triennial county budget for fiscal years 2022-2024, which includes $961 million for fiscal year 2022, at its meeting in September 2021.
Adoption of the FY 2022 balanced budget follows an extensive, collaborative and bipartisan effort. The three-year budget was first proposed by County Executive David Coulter to the Board of Commissioners on July 1, 2021. The Finance Committee conducted an in-depth review of the plan and hosted 22 budget hearings with department heads in the months following the original proposal.With the 2022-2024 budget, the county prioritizes public health, workforce development, sustainability efforts and more, including:
- $4 million to match funding for local and county roads across Oakland County
- $150,000 to partner with local communities to support lake safety sheriff patrols
- $250,000 to combat invasive species attacking oak and other trees
- Increased investment to improve literacy rates in the county
- New social work services embedded in the Oakland County Sheriff's Office
- Creation of a Conviction Integrity Unit in the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office
Also in 2021, separate from the adoption of the triennial budget, the Board approved funding for a feasibility study for a new Oakland County Sheriff's Office training center and $2 million for future infrastructure design projects.
Visit the Fiscal Services website for the most recent and detailed information about the county budget.
2021 Local Road Funding
The conditions of Oakland County roads have a significant impact on the lives and safety of residents, as well as the health of the local economy. That is why the county's Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP) and Tri-Party Partnership both aim to provide funding to the local governments that are responsible for maintaining our area roads.
Launched by the Board in 2016, the LRIP provides Oakland County cities and villages with limited financial assistance for repairs and improvements on roadways under their jurisdiction. It ensures that the overall investment in local roads is increased by requiring that funds provided by the county are matched by local municipalities.
Commissioners have worked diligently to secure funding for high priority road repairs and improvements in the communities they serve. In 2021, Commissioner Kowall is proud that a total of $369,326 in county funds were secured for local communities, funding that was wisely leveraged towards projects equaling an estimated $1,107,979 in local road infrastructure investment in her district.
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.
New county commission districts set for next decade
Following a review of the 2020 Census information, the full Oakland County Board of Commissioners adopted a new plan that sets the boundaries and seats for county commission districts for the next ten years. The new map will be in place for the 2023-2024 Board term.
The Oakland County Board of Commissioners Reapportionment Ad Hoc Committee was formed on June 17, 2021 to propose county commission districts based on final 2020 Census data. The committee was chaired by Commissioner Angela Powell (D-Pontiac). In addition, Board Chairman David T. Woodward served as vice chair, and Board Vice Chairwoman Marcia Gershenson (D-Bloomfield Twp.) served with Commissioners Michael Spisz (R-Oxford) and Eileen Kowall (R-White Lake) as members on the committee.
The new plan reduces the number of county districts from 21 to 19. According to State Law, the full Board of Commissioners is responsible for establishing county districts based on Census data every ten years. The new county commission district maps can be found here.
13th Tri-County Summit serves as forum for local legislators to collaborate on shared opportunities and challenges in the region
Legislators from Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties met at the Tri-County Summit held at the Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores in November 2021. They discussed a wide range of issues facing the region, as well as opportunities to collaborate to solve problems and improve the quality of life in communities throughout Southeast Michigan.
The event featured six sessions, including presentations and panel conversations about infrastructure, the environment, business and mobility. Participants included individuals from all levels of government. The summit was a starting point for many important conversations and collaborations and paved the way for the three county commissions to work together in 2022.
The Tri-County Summit was first hosted in 1998 to create a forum to identify common issues for cooperative action. Previous topics have included mental health, criminal justice, transportation/transit, economic development and regional quality of life. Specific issues that have been collaboratively addressed include home foreclosures, green infrastructure improvement, reports on the region's economic outlook and the "Silver Tsunami." This is the 13th time the summit has taken place.
"There are very few opportunities for the three counties to come together on a regular basis, so this summit was the perfect way to dig into issues that are impacting us regionally," Commissioner Kowall said. "Water and mobility challenges, for instance, do not stop at county borders and will require all of us to put our heads together seeking solutions."
Find more information about the Tri-County Summit here.
County Commission reserves $5 million in response to Oxford High School shooting
Following the shooting that occurred at Oxford High School on November 30, the Board reserved $5 million to support Oakland County's response to the tragedy, which included $600,000 that was made available immediately to the Prosecutor's Office.
First responders, communities, businesses, schools, and residents have all rallied around Oxford High School students, staff, and families following the incident. Oakland County is committed to helping the greater Oxford community address long-term mental health needs and ensuring all schools, communities, and residents have the resources they need in the aftermath of this tragedy.
If you or someone you know needs support related to this tragedy or any other mental health concerns, call or text the Common Ground Resource and Crisis Helpline at 1-800-231-1127, or chat online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at www.commongroundhelps.org.
Commissioners host county students for virtual Youth in Government Day
In 2021, the Oakland County Board of Commissioners partnered with MSU Extension 4-H to welcome more than 70 high school students from across the county for a virtual version of the annual Youth in Government Day. The program was reformatted to connect students with county leadership while remaining physically distant. Students participated in mock debates, spoke with elected officials and learned more about the role county government plays in their lives and communities.
Youth in Government Day featured interactive sessions facilitated by the MSU Extension 4-H Leadership & Civic Engagement team, who challenged students to think critically about media consumption, complex legislative issues and the role of local government in their lives. Attendees also participated in Q&A sessions with countywide elected officials and county commissioners.
Read more about the 2021 Youth in Government Day here.
Four Board programs honored with 2021 NACo Achievement Awards
Four Oakland County Board of Commissioners programs received 2021 Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo). The "Safe for School" Hotline, Oakland Together Lifeline Program, Native Plant Initiative, and the Clean, Drain, Dry, Dispose Pilot Program were all recognized during NACo's Annual Conference and Exposition in July 2021.
During the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic, the "Safe for School" Hotline, in partnership with Beaumont Health, helped parents and guardians by identifying potential illness in students prior to entering a school. Over the course of two months, the hotline answered 130 calls. The Oakland Together Lifeline Program paired senior residents at several senior living residences across Oakland County with Amazon Echo Show devices to help them see and speak with loved ones to reduce isolation among during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Native Plant Initiative provided Oakland County residents with pre-assembled kits containing over a dozen assorted native plants to use in their gardens to restore damage caused by invasive and non-native species. The Clean, Drain, Dry, Dispose (CD3) Pilot Program deployed mobile boat cleaning stations to enable boat owners to clean, drain and dry their watercraft to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. One station was placed at Dodge Park #4 (Cass Lake) and the second station was moved around based on community request and need.
Started in 1970, the NACo Achievement Awards highlights innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents. In total, Oakland County received 12 NACo Achievement Awards in 2021.
Read more about the Board's 2021 NACo Achievement Awards here.
Healthy Aging Ad Hoc Committee publishes Blueprint for Successful Aging
The Oakland County Healthy Aging Ad Hoc Committee continued its support for the county's older residents with full Board approval of the Blueprint for Successful Aging in December 2021. The blueprint provides strategies to make systematic change and positive measurable outcomes to address service gaps, unmet needs and opportunities for older adults to ensure they maintain a high quality of life regardless of age. The 36-page document, developed by the Area Agency on Aging 1-B (AAA 1-B), is the result of comprehensive community outreach, including four town hall meetings and multiple surveys.
To help close the gaps in existing services, the blueprint provides ten top recommendations for the county to implement, based on suggestions from community members and industry experts. Those suggestions focus on household repair and household chore programs; public transportation options; elder abuse prevention; assisting seniors with programs that provide in-home services; senior center programming and supports; reducing isolation with technology; increasing volunteerism among seniors; and additional county programming.
View the blueprint here.
New initiative supports countywide fair housing practices
County commissioners and fair housing leaders unveiled the Oakland County Fair Housing Initiative at the Ferndale Housing Commission in April 2021. The initiative, which was launched during National Fair Housing Month, aims to prevent source of income (SOI) housing discrimination and eliminate other barriers to fair housing.
As part of the Fair Housing Initiative, the Board unanimously adopted a resolution recognizing April as Fair Housing Month, which served to bring awareness to housing discrimination in our county. Commissioners also adopted a resolution to develop a local policy or ordinance that cities, villages and townships can take and use in their communities to prohibit source of income discrimination. This would make it easier for local leaders to put polices in place that protect our residents.
Additionally, a resolution to establish the "Unlocking Doors Oakland" program in partnership with the Alliance for Housing was adopted by the Board in August 2021. This program, which is the starting point for a landlord mitigation fund, could help eliminate barriers to fair housing by offering an incentive to landlords who may choose not to rent to residents based on their source of income, like housing vouchers.
If you have questions, comments or concerns, please contact the Board of Commissioners at 248-858-0100 or email@example.com. More information about the Board of Commissioners is available at www.oakgov.com/boc.