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Posted: 01/08/14

Brown: Collaboration
the way to go in 2014

Observer Staff Writer
      District 7 County Commissioner Don Brown said county government is operating on a trimmed budget, but he is hoping cooperation will bring projects forward in 2014.
       "Collaboration is the way of the future for county and local governments," he said. "The more communities work together, the more taxpayer-friendly they'll be."
       One area Brown said he was focusing on was working with the Michigan Department of Transportation to consider options for improving safety on M-53, mainly in the northern portion where construction was recently completed.
       "It's still very dangerous to get out at 34 Mile Road when you're trying to make the left out of there," he said. "The road improvement is great, but the volume of traffic up there is high."
       He said the talks could include speaking with state representatives about gaining access to M-53 from 33 Mile Road. The county has also assisted in facilitating a state grant to have 34 Mile Road paved in the coming year.
       In the meantime, he said the county will continue its limestone program, offering treatment to miles of gravel or dirt roads to improve them.
       The patrols for those roads won't see much of a change in the near future. Brown said he doesn't see any issues coming up that will change sheriff's deputy patrols in the northern area, but is working with local municipal leaders to keep the policing they contract for within their townships. He said the sheriff will continue to provide the minimum coverage offered through county taxes for other communities.
       "The sheriff is committed to working with his existing staff and making sure there is appropriate coverage," he said.
       The patrols will, however, utilize the county's new communications center, known as COMTEC. The center offers joint dispatch services to communities at a price, and Brown said he would help local communities join up if they wanted to achieve cost savings.
       "It's just getting off the ground, but the more and more communities that sign on to the joint dispatch service will lead to efficiencies," he said.
       COMTEC was part of the county's $631 million balanced budget approved in 2013, and Brown said he believes the county will continue down the path of balanced budgets in 2014.
       "We've been operating leaner," he said. "It may take a little bit longer to get some of the services you had from the county but you're still going to get them."
       The county has had some disputes in the past about the duties the county executive's office and the commissioners play in the charter government, such as with contracts, but Brown believes the two entities will work together.
       "There is still going to be points of friction, but generally speaking any animosity has been lowered and we all know our roles better," he said.
       Brown said he would work against proposals to build a landfill in northern Macomb County, having been involved with previous landfill battles in the county around 20 years ago.
       He said waste discussions extend to how the county manages its liquid waste, which would affect the northern end since a lot of its property owners use septic fields or tanks.

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