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In The Public Interest: Know Your County Government - Meet Washtenaw County Administrator Greg Dill

Greg Dill
Lisa Barry
89.1 WEMU

This week in our bi-weekly conversation with the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area, 89.1 WEMU's Lisa Barry talks to Washtenaw County administrator Greg Dill, as we begin a series of conversations about what happens and who's involved in Washtenaw County government.

As County Administrator, to whom do you report and what do you do?

  • Elected Board of nine Commissioners
  • Hire and direct County Administrator
  • Sets policy
  • Allocates funds
  • County Administrator directs
  • Service departments
  • Support units
  • Other elected officials run their own departments
  • Clerk/register
  • Treasurer
  • Sheriff
  • Prosecutor
  • Water Resources Commissioner (formerly Drain Commissioner)

How big is Washtenaw County?

  • population in excess of 350,000 residents
  • spread across 25 local units of government
  • County General fund revenue is $120 million; 61% of this comes from taxes, 19% from fees & services
  • 52% of expenditures are for public safety, 21% for judicial,

Washtenaw County government does a lot of things.  When are residents most likely to use or encounter county services? 

  • Voting (County Clerk directs all elections in co-ordination with city, village, township administrations)
  • Visit a county park (over 7,300 acres of land, including over 40 nature preserves and parks.including Rolling Hills water park and Meri Lou Murray Recreation Center)
  • Register a deed when you buy a house
  • Apply for a marriage license
  • Request a copy of a birth or a death certificate (assuming you were born in Washtenaw County)
  • Apply for another kind of license or permit
  • Probate an estate
  • Serve on a jury
  • Grow a better garden (MSU extension)
  • Pay your real estate taxes (collected by cities, villages & townships, but a portion goes to the County to support county services)

How about services we hope we don’t need?

  • Call 911 (county-wide dispatch coordinated by sheriff’s dept)
  • Receive help after a tornado or other community emergency
  • Obtain mental health services
  • Need a public defender
  • Report domestic violence
  • Challenge your property tax assessment

What else does the county do?

  • Provides for public safety and justice
  • Sheriff Dept
  • Jail
  • Prosecutor & Public Defender
  • Courts
  • Provides Public & mental health services
  • Economic development

How does the County coordinate with cities, villages or townships?

  • We may work together to coordinate a service or provide the service separately.
  • Examples:
  • Elections are a joint responsibility.  Residents can register to vote at their local clerk’s office or at the county clerk’s office.  And elections are coordinated by the county and conducted by city/village/township clerks.
  • Some units of government have their own police departments.  Others contract with the Sheriff’s Office for policing service.
  • The city of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti Township issue their own dog licenses, but the County issues these for all other units of government.

How can I learn more about Washtenaw County government? 

  • Washtenaw County Board of Commissioner meetings are held 1st and 3rd Thursday of every month, 6:30 p.m., Administrative Building, 220 N. Main Street, Ann Arbor. (They are broadcast live on CTN Cable Channel 16.  Replays are scheduled on Thursday at 1:30 p.m., Friday at Noon and Sunday at 7 p.m.  Learn more on the Webcast page.)

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu

Lisa Barry was a reporter, and host of All Things Considered on 89.1 WEMU.
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