County Commissioner (Ingham County / 10Th District) - 2 Year Term - Vote For Not More Than 1

County Commissioner (Ingham County / 10Th District) - 2 Year Term - Vote For Not More Than 1

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  • Janice Harvey

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    Brian McGrain

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Biographical Information

What makes you more qualified than other candidates for this office?

Should the county spend more on parks? Yes or no, please explain.

Is the quality of county roads acceptable? Yes or no, please explain.

Do you support raising taxes as a way to pay for road improvements? Yes or no, please explain.

Are you comfortable with the structure and scope of county government? Yes or no, please explain.

To promote efficiency and lower costs should the role of county government expand and the role of city and township government shrink? Yes or no, please explain.

Related to government structure, what would you change?

What are the three most important issues facing the county and how would you address them?

As property tax revenue and state aid decline, is it appropriate for the county to assume a larger role in providing services to county residents? Yes or no, please explain.

What county services do you consider most vital?

What county services are least vital and can be trimmed to lower expenses?

Are you current in all tax, alimony and child support obligations? Yes or no. If no, please explain.

The county now levies seven special millages for issues such as healthcare, juvenile services, the zoo and parks and trails. A new millage is proposed for animal control services, and discussions are underway for a new jail, which could result in a millage. What is your position on the taxation level for services in Ingham County? Which millages would you propose eliminating? Would you support new millages, and if so, for what services?

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Home address 300 North Fairview
Hometown Lansing
Education BS, Urban/Regional Planning, MSU; MPA, Public Administration/Urban Studies, MSU
Family Partner Rion
Professional Experience Brian has nearly 20 years of experience working for governments and nonprofits in the mid-Michigan area. He is currently the Chief Operating Officer for the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM). He has previously worked in Land Use Research and Political Leadership Development at Michigan State University.
Political Experience 8 years serving as an elected Ingham County Commissioner
Campaign Website
I have been serving as a Commissioner representing this district for 8 years. I have worked hard to be in touch with the residents throughout the district and to be a voice for their concerns. I have Chaired the Commission and several committees, and I have gained the experience in operating in local government to be effective. Additionally, I serve on a number of other local Boards as the County appointee, where I have been able to put my background in public administration and planning to good use. I have a background in public administration, urban planning, community and economic development, and affordable housing -- all of which provide the right skills for service as a Commissioner.
Yes. Due to budgetary constraints, we have been operating them for some time at greatly reduced levels. Despite the fact, we still have excellent parks located throughout the county which provide wonderful opportunities of all kinds for residents. Money from the trails millage is beginning to make its way out into the community, helping us to make much-needed critical repairs across the County, including to our county parks. As our property tax revenues rebound, I would like to see us devoting more money to take care of our aging infrastructure and ramping up staffing so that the full county park experience can be had for the widest range of folks.
No. Well over half of the roads controlled by the County (typically roads in our townships) are rated as "poor" -- as well as many of our bridges and other infrastructure components. While we have an excellent road department and high-quality employees working hard to maintain the quality of our roads, we have a dearth of funding when it comes to state and federal resources.
I do not support increasing local taxes to pay for road improvements. Several of us talked briefly about the idea of a local roads millage, but the amount of funding that would be raised by our own County citizens (perhaps $2-$5 million) would be a drop in the bucket towards what we really need. With literally hundreds of miles of roads in poor condition, it would take us decades to address our issues with that amount of additional funding. Rather, I believe that leadership needs to come at the state and federal level to not only increase funding to roads, but also to give greater support to alternative methods of transportation and to put barriers in place to prevent uninhibited sprawl.
I am generally comfortable with the structure and scope of county government. I am open to discussions relating to size and function, as I have always been in the past. Several years ago I was a "yes" vote for merging the independent Ingham County Road Commission into general County government. While this added nearly 100 employees to the County, it allowed us to share services relating to Human Resources and Accounting, thus allowing us to both see some cost savings and also deliver heightened quality of service in those areas, allowing Road Department employees to better concentrate on servicing our roadways.
I believe there are additional places where governments can share services and/or merge to achieve both better economies of scale and better service. An area we have been actively looking at is combining Assessing Services across municipalities in the economy. We believe that one central department (as opposed to each municipality separately conducting their own assessing) may allow us to save money and also have an easier time obtaining qualified assessors to handle that service across the County.
I believe there are some ways local government is set up that were done so in the 1800's that don't make sense any more. It is probably time for a holistic viewing of city, county, village, and township services, and for figuring out what makes most sense to be offered at what level.
Since I have been a Commissioner, most years have been challenging budget-wise, since we have continued to deal with either decreasing revenues, or revenue growth not keeping pace with inflationary growth in expenditure. Moving into 2017, we will be working to figure out how to deal with a $3 million shortfall in our general fund, while simultaneously figuring out how to deal with our aging facilities (such as the jail). Maintaining high-quality service in the face of light revenues will be the biggest challenge faced.
While the County has stepped to the plate before when the issue has required it (such by being a leader in providing a health care safety net pre-affordable care act), the County often finds itself in challenging situations when property tax and state revenues decline. It is difficult for the County to take on additional services at a time when we are finding it difficult to pay for the services that are currently provided.
I believe services related to health, welfare, and safety are the most vital. Our health department plays the primary role in disease prevention in our community, as well as a strong role in providing health access to all residents, especially our most vulnerable. Ingham County has also taken affirmative steps in providing a robust combination of social service tools, including those mandated by the state (such as our local DHHS office) and those that we residents pay additional for (such as our Family Center). This coming year, we will be working out the finances for construction of a new, updated jail, to replace our deteriorating facility.
A number of years ago, we stopped providing primary law enforcement services to the rural areas of the County. Citizens in our more urban communities pay for these primary law enforcement services to their local municipalities. It didn't seem fair that my constituents were paying the bill for law enforcement in other communities.
I am not in support of a jail millage. I believe the County needs to figure out how to fund the jail within its own resources. I tend to be most supportive of millages that provide extra services to our residents beyond what we can provide with basic services, or that support critical needs for our populace.