Posted by Eric Tindall on May 23, 2019
At Rotary Club of Ann Arbor North's Luncheon on May 23, 2019 our speaker was Washtenaw County Commissioner Andy LaBarre.
A county commission (also known as a board of county commissioners) is a group of elected officials charged with administering the county government in some states of the United States. 
The commission acts as the executive of the local government, levies local taxes, administers county governmental services such as prisons, courts, public health oversight, property registration, building code enforcement, and public works such as road maintenance.
Andy was elected to the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners on January 1, 2013. He was elected to his third term on the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners in 2016. Andy represents District 7, located in the eastern half of the City of Ann Arbor. For 2017 he served as Chair of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners.
At the RCAAN Luncheon Andy talked about some topics that are being worked on right now in Washtenaw County:
  • Gelman Dioxane Plume:
  • Gelman Sciences (now Pall Corp., a division of Danaher Corp.) polluted groundwater in parts of Washtenaw County, including parts of the City as well as Ann Arbor and Scio Townships, when it improperly disposed of industrial solvents containing 1,4-dioxane between 1966 and 1986.  That pollution has since spread through the aquifer.  The City is engaged with neighbouring communities and the state to, among other things, push Gelman to delineate, contain and clean up its pollution.  To that end, the City has, for example, intervened in litigation in Washtenaw County Circuit Court brought by the State against Gelman.
  • Washtenaw County provides mental health services to adults with a severe and persistent mental illness, children with a severe emotional disturbance, and individuals with a developmental disability, residing in the county.
  • There's a $150 million gap between the cost of health care and what's provided to Michigan's public mental health system, according to a recent analysis released by the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan (CMHAM). Only 4 percent of the funding provided to the CMH system is available to serve Michiganders without Medicaid who need mental health services, according to the CMHAM press release.
  • Among the recommendations include restoring General Fund dollars to the system, setting Medicaid rates to match demands and costs, and removing the local match draw-down obligation from budget boilerplate. CMHAM sees these changes and others as ways to modernize the funding system.
  • "There are new demands, new crises and new conditions in every community throughout Michigan, which the original financing structure did not account for," said CMHAM CEO Robert SHEEHAN, in a statement. "These include the opioid crisis, incarceration of those with mental health needs, the recognition of the prevalence of autism, increased homelessness and more -- yet the system is still operating from a decades-old funding structure."
Andy then took some questions from Rotarian's.
  • Some of the question topics was:
  • Washtenaw County Roads
  • Washtenaw County Jail
Before Andy started his talk, Pres. Joyce handed out red noses for Red Nose Day which was today May 23rd. ​​​​​​
Red Nose Day is a campaign with the mission to end child poverty by funding programs that keep children safe, healthy, and educated. Through the power of entertainment, Red Nose Day bring people together to laugh and have fun, all while raising life-changing cash for the children that need it the most. Since our debut in 2015, we have raised over $150 million and have positively impacted over 16 million children in America, and around the world.