List of Cities in Washtenaw County:
- Ann Arbor
The county government operates the jail, maintains rural roads, operates the major local courts, keeps files of deeds and mortgages, maintains vital records, administers public health regulations, and participates with the state in the provision of welfare and other social services. The county board of commissioners controls the budget but has only limited authority to make laws or ordinances. In Michigan, most local government functions — police and fire, building and zoning, tax assessment, street maintenance, etc. — are the responsibility of individual cities and townships.
Police services and jail controversy
The provision and funding of sheriff's department police services has been a point of conflict in county politics in recent years. Three townships within the county (Augusta, Salem, and Ypsilanti) are suing the county government and the Sheriff over a controversial increase in service fees for police services. Currently local communities pay approximately $90,000 per year for one Deputy Sheriff officer per 36-38 hours of coverage per week, which is projected to double to approximately $180,000 per year in the next few years. County officials claim that the increase is necessary to be fair to county residents in communities that run their own police departments, who have effectively also been paying for patrols in other areas. The townships contend that the county government reneged on an earlier agreement to maintain a higher level of county funding for police services.
In the 2006 election, three (of eleven) incumbent county commissioners were defeated by opponents who campaigned on the police services issue.
The Sheriff, Dan Minzey, is suing the Board of Commissioners, the County, and the County Administrator Bob Guenzel.
Much of this controversy originated from Washtenaw County's desperate need for a larger correctional facility. The "ousted" commissioners were allegedly "doing what was right" for the county by making budget changes. The current county jail system has suffered from overcrowding, which has been managed by reducing some prisoners' sentences and by contracting other counties to house inmates. Raising police contract rates will help pay for the construction of an expanded jail facility. Voters rejected proposals to raise taxes for this purpose in 1998, 2000, and 2005.
Washtenaw County elected officials
- Prosecuting Attorney: Brian L. Mackie (Democrat)
- Sheriff: Dan Minzey (Democrat)
- County Clerk/Register of Deeds: Lawrence Kestenbaum (Democrat)
- County Treasurer: Catherine McClary (Democrat)
- Drain Commissioner: Janis A. Bobrin (Democrat)
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